With the clock ticking toward midnight on Joe Paterno‘s 61-year reign over Happy Valley, yet another report has surfaced that this will be the coaching icon’s final season at Penn State.
Following up on a Tuesday New York Times‘ report that JoePa could step down “within days or weeks“, the Associated Press was the first to report Wednesday that Paterno has decided to retire at the the end of the 2011 season. Scott Paterno, the coach’s son, confirmed that his father will retire to the Patriot-News.
Subsequent to those reports, Paterno released a statement acknowledging this season will be his last. And acknowledging “I wish I had done more.”
Here is the statement, in its entirety:
I am absolutely devastated by the developments in this case. I grieve for the children and their families, and I pray for their comfort and relief.
I have come to work every day for the last 61 years with one clear goal in mind: To serve the best interests of this university and the young men who have been entrusted to my care. I have the same goal today.
That’s why I have decided to announce my retirement effective at the end of this season. At this moment the Board of Trustees should not spend a single minute discussing my status. They have far more important matters to address. I want to make this as easy for them as I possibly can. This is a tragedy. It is one of the great sorrows of my life. With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more.
My goals now are to keep my commitments to my players and staff and finish the season with dignity and determination. And then I will spend the rest of my life doing everything I can to help this University.
Paterno, who is in his 46th season as the Nittany Lions’ head coach, has come under increasing pressure in recent days for what many perceive as negligent inaction — with the exception of the bare minimum as required by law — when he became aware of child-sex abuse allegations levied against Jerry Sandusky, his former long-time trusted assistant, in 2002.
As late as last night, however, the Paterno camp was very strident that retirement had not been discussed and that the 84-year-old coach was in this for the long haul.
The school’s Board of Trustees will meet tonight and then again Friday to discuss the growing scandal. There remains chatter that the trustees will force Paterno to step down before Saturday’s game against Nebraska and not permit Paterno to coach through the end of the season. That speculation should be clarified at some point today.
If Paterno is indeed permitted to coach the remainder of the season, it will be his final game at Beaver Stadium as the Nittany Lions play their final two games on the road.