Town hall meeting prompts statement on Paterno’s dismissal

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It’s been exactly nine weeks and one day since Penn State issued a statement declaring that its Board of Trustees had “determined that it is in the best interest of the University for Joe Paterno to no longer serve as head football coach, effective immediately.”

The abrupt and what some considered heartless end to a 46-year head-coaching career at, and a 62-year association with, the school did not sit well with many individuals connected to the university.  Two months later, it’s still not sitting well, apparently.

At a series of town hall meetings that began Wednesday and was intended to address how the school handled — or bungled — the Jerry Sandusky child-sex abuse scandal before and after it came to the public light, president Rodney Erickson was peppered with questions by the alumni in attendance regarding the manner in which Paterno was dismissed.  As a result of those questions, the university decided to release a statement from board chairman Steve Garban.

Here’s Garban’s statement, in its entirety:

Many alumni have asked why the Board decided to remove Coach Paterno from his position as Head Football Coach.

On Wednesday, November 9, Coach Paterno announced that he would retire at the conclusion of the 2011 football season. Given the nature of the serious allegations contained in the Grand Jury Report and the extraordinary circumstances then facing the University, the Board’s unanimous judgment was that Coach Paterno could not be expected to continue to effectively perform his duties and that it was in the best interests of the University to make an immediate change in his status.  Therefore, the Board acted to remove Coach Paterno from his position as Head Football Coach effective as of that date.

Coach Paterno remains employed by the University as a tenured faculty member. The details of his retirement are being worked out and will be made public when they are finalized.  Generally speaking, the University intends to honor the terms of his employment contract and is treating him financially as if he had retired at the end of the 2011 football season.

That’s all well and good, but what we’re anxiously awaiting is a statement on why Sandusky, months after the school was made aware of the grand jury investigation into the alleged pedophile and a week before his indictment, was sitting in the president’s box for a Nittany Lions-Illinois game Oct. 29 at Beaver Stadium.  With tickets provided by then-athletic director Tim Curley.

The reasoning behind that immensely disturbing development, more so than the minutia behind the firing of a head football coach, is what university officials might consider addressing in future town hall meetings.  And something for which those same alumni questioning how Paterno was dismissed should demand an answer to just as loudly.

UPDATED 8:26 p.m. ET: Shortly after Penn State issued its statement, Scott Paterno, one of the coach’s sons, issued a statement of his own in which he again charged that the dismissal was not handled well:

“It is helpful to have on the record the Board’s position re my father’s status with the University. As has become apparent, the termination on November 9, with no notice or hearing, was not handled well. Joe Paterno has reiterated from the beginning that the first priority in this crisis is to serve the best interests of the victims.

“He believes strongly that everyone involved is entitled to due process.

“He also thinks that a wholesale attack on the football program and Penn State’s academic record, as has happened in some quarters, is unjustified. This is a crisis that deserves thoughtful and thorough review. In the course of that review and analysis, however, the legitimate achievements of this University and the many good people who worked so hard to build it into a world class institution should not be disrespected. My parents are unwavering in their loyalty and dedication to Penn State.”

WVU RB Donaldson in concussion protocol, out for Baylor game

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) West Virginia running back CJ Donaldson is in concussion protocol and will miss next week’s home game with Baylor after he was injured in a loss to Texas, coach Neal Brown said Tuesday.

Donaldson remained on the ground after he was tackled on a short gain in the third quarter of Saturday’s 38-20 loss to the Longhorns. His helmet and shoulder pads were removed and he was carted off the field on a stretcher. After the game he was cleared to travel home with the team.

“He’s recovering,” Brown said. “There is a strict return-to-play (policy) that we have to follow here and I’m zero involved in it. All I do is ask the question. They don’t even start the return-to-play until they’re symptom free.”

Donaldson, a 240-pound freshman, leads the Mountaineers with 389 rushing yards and six touchdowns, with an average of 6.9 yards per carry.

West Virginia (2-3, 0-2 Big 12 Conference) is idle this week and hosts Baylor (3-2, 1-1) next Thursday, Oct. 13.

Taulia Tagovailoa says he visited brother, Tua, over weekend

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COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Maryland quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa was able to visit his brother, Tua, last weekend after the Terrapins’ game against Michigan State, he said Tuesday in his first comments to reporters since Tua left the Miami Dolphins’ game against Cincinnati last Thursday with a frightening head injury.

Taulia played in Maryland’s win over Michigan State on Saturday but was not made available to the media afterward. He said Tuesday he was able to go to Florida and spend some time with his brother, who suffered a concussion four days after taking a hit in another game but was cleared to return.

“He’s doing good, everything’s fine,” he said. “My biggest thing was just seeing him and spending as much time as I can with him. I came back Sunday night.”

Tagovailoa said he appreciates the support for his brother.

“My brother’s my heart. He’s someone I look up to, someone I talk to every day,” he said. “It was just a hard scene for me to see that.”

Tagovailoa said he was in constant contact with his mother about his brother’s situation, and he was finally able to talk to Tua on Friday night.

“I really just wanted to go there and just spend time with my family, hug them and stuff like that,” Taulia Tagovailoa said. “But he told me he’s a big fan of us, and he’d rather watch me play on Saturday. … After that phone call, I was happy and getting back to my normal routine.”

Tagovailoa indicated that his brother’s injury didn’t make him too nervous about his own health when he took the field again.

“I guess when that happens to someone like my brother, or when anything happens to one of my family members, I don’t really think of how it will be able to affect me,” he said. “I just think of: `Is he OK? How’s he doing?”‘

Although it was a short visit to Florida, he said he and Tua made the most of their chance to be together.

“I just wanted to make sure he’s healthy and stuff, which he is,” Taulia Tagovailoa said.