Paterno out as coach, Spanier as university president

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Paterno out as coach, Spanier as university president

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. Joe Paterno's 61-year career as a coach and teacher at Penn State is over, effective immediately. The university's board of trustees made the announcement at the Penn Stater Hotel and Conference Center on Wednesday night.

The Board also fired university president Graham Spanier.

The decision to remove the iconic football coach came in the wake of the sexual abuse scandal involving Paterno's trusted assistant, Jerry Sandusky. The former defensive coordinator and Penn State linebacker was charged with 40 counts of sexual abuse against eight boys over a 15-year span. Two top university officials (Tim Curley, the athletic director, and Gary Schultz, the senior vice president for finance and business) have been charged with perjury and failing to report to authorities what they knew of the allegations against Sandusky.

When asked why the board chose to remove Paterno on Wednesday night rather than wait until after Saturday's final home game of the season, Vice Chairman John Surma said, "the situation we're in today was not in the best interest of the university...our job was to make this determination."

Surma added that the Board's vote was unanimous.

Defensive coordinator Tom Bradley will replace Paterno, and Rodney Erickson will replace Spanier both on an interim basis. Bradley took over from Sandusky when he retired in 1999. Former graduate assistant and assistant coach, Mike McQueary, remains on the staff.

Shortly after midnight, Paterno issued the following statement his second of the day:

I am disappointed with the Board of Trustees' decision, but I have to accept it, Paterno wrote. A tragedy occurred, and we all have to have patience to let the legal process proceed. I appreciate the outpouring of support but want to emphasize that everyone should remain calm and please respect the university, its property and all that we value.

I have been incredibly blessed to spend my entire career working with people I love. I am grateful beyond words to all of the coaches, players and staff who have been a part of this program. And to all of our fans and supporters, my family and I will be forever in your debt.

Earlier Wednesday, Paterno issued a statement announcing his plan to retire at the end of the season. The Board of Trustees, however, felt it was prudent to relieve Paterno immediately.

The past several days have been absolutely terrible for the entire Penn State community, Surma said. But the outrage that we feel is nothing compared to the physical and psychological suffering that allegedly took place.

Penn State is 8-1, ranked No. 12 in the country and leading the standings in the Big Ten. A bid to a BCS Bowl game is nearly assured. However, Penn State is scheduled to face No. 18 Nebraska on Saturday in what was to be Paternos final game at the universitys Beaver Stadium.

The press conference where the Board gathered to release its decision quickly turned unruly and confrontational. Local and student media, clearly angry with the decision to remove Paterno, shouted questions at Surma. Paterno, meanwhile, was informed of his firing via a telephone call from a member of the Board.

The first question after the announcement of Paternos ouster was, Who will coach the team Saturday?

On campus, a small group of students gathered at the statue of Paterno at the football stadium where they kept a quiet vigil. Some students, in tears, hugged the statue and then moved back to their place in the group.

Beneath the statue of Paterno, the inscription reads: They ask me what I'd like written about me when I'm gone. I hope they write I made Penn State a better place, not just that I was a good football coach.

Elsewhere on campus on Beaver Ave. and in front of Old Main on College Ave., a more raucous gathering of students took place. They chanted their displeasure in Paternos firing, and a TV truck was flipped over.

But otherwise, the gathering was peaceful and orderly.

Paterno finishes his 46-year coaching career with 409 wins, more than any other coach in college football history. He guided Penn State to two National Championships and five undefeated seasons. Paterno, 84, reportedly broke down in tears while informing his team that he planned to step down at the end of the season.

Surma said the board of trustees would appoint a committee to investigate the "circumstances" that resulted into the charges of sexual assault and the cover up. The committee will be appointed Friday at the board's regular meeting, which Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett will attend.

According to the grand jury report, Paterno notified Curley and Schultz about the 2002 abuse charge against Sandusky after being told about it by then graduate assistant Mike McQueary. Sandusky had retired from Penn State in 1999, but still had an office and full access to the football building. The grand jury report indicates that the charges of abuse against Sandusky continued after the 2002 incident.

Because of this, the U.S. Department of Education said Wednesday it would investigate whether Penn State violated a federal law requiring the disclosure of criminal offenses on campus and warnings of crimes posing a threat to the community in its handling of the allegations. The request for the investigation came from U.S. Rep. Patrick Meehan, R-Pa., on Tuesday.

The past several days have been absolutely terrible for the entire Penn State community, Surma said. But the outrage that we feel is nothing compared to the physical and psychological suffering that allegedly took place.

Paterno spoke briefly to supporters that showed up at his home, just a short distance off campus. Reports are that Paterno could hold a press conference of his own as early as Thursday.

Let's see what's going to happen, OK? Paterno said. Right now I'm not the coach and I've got to get used to that. After 61 years, I've got to get used to it.

A report from a CNBC business reporter estimated that the civil suit against Penn State for the sex-abuse charges could reach 100 million. The football department had revenues of approximately 50 million in 2010.

Nevertheless, Paterno will not be a coach for Penn State for the first time since 1949.

This is a tragedy, Paterno said. It is one of the great sorrows of my life. With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more.

E-mail John Finger at jrfinger@comcastsportsnet.com.

Baylor to fire football coach Briles, re-assign president

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Baylor to fire football coach Briles, re-assign president

WACO, Texas -- Baylor University's board of regents said Thursday that it will fire football coach Art Briles and re-assign university President Kenneth Starr amid questions over the school's handling of sexual assault complaints against players.

The nation's largest Baptist university said in a statement Thursday that it had suspended Briles "with intent to terminate." Starr will leave the position of president on May 31, but the school says he will serve as chancellor.

The university also placed athletic director Ian McCaw on probation.

Baylor asked a law firm last year to conduct a review of its handling of sexual assault cases following allegations that the football program mishandled several cases of players attacking women.

The university's statement said the review revealed "a fundamental failure."

Baylor has faced increasing criticism in recent months for its handling of reports of rape and other violent incidents involving football players and students. One victim has sued the university, saying it was deliberately indifferent to her allegations against a former player who was eventually convicted of sexually assaulting her.

Starr ordered an investigation last year but has been mostly silent amid mounting criticism over the school's handling of the complaints, which erupted under his leadership. He took over as the university's president in 2010, about a decade after the former prosecutor investigated former President Clinton's sexual relationship with White House intern Monica Lewisnky.

The football team, whose players were at the center of the upheaval, enjoyed unprecedented success under Briles' tenure, including two Big 12 championships in the last three years. That success brought a financial windfall, and in 2014, Baylor opened a new, $250-million on-campus football stadium. But Briles' program has also been criticized for recruiting or accepting transfer players without regard to the harm they might cause fellow students.

Starr rode the waves of the program's success, and often ran on the football field with Baylor students in pregame ceremonies. But as investigations began into the school's handling of sexual assault allegations against players, Starr provided only brief comments, even as criticism of the school mounted.

In a February statement issued by university, Starr said "our hearts break for those whose lives are impacted by execrable acts of sexual violence." And at a prayer breakfast last month, Starr told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram: "I am in favor of transparency. Stand up, take your medicine if you made a mistake."

Baylor's Board of Regents was recently briefed by a law firm hired to investigate how the school responded to assault incidents, and the school on Thursday released a summary of its findings. Starr initiated the review in 2015, after former football player Sam Ukwuachu was convicted of sexually assaulting a female soccer player.

Ukwuachu, who was convicted in 2015, transferred to Baylor after he was dismissed from Boise State. Ukwuachu's former girlfriend testified during his rape trial in Texas that he had struck and choked her when he attended Boise State.

Ukwuachu's former coach, Chris Peterson, now the coach at Washington, said he "thoroughly apprised" Briles about the circumstances of Ukuwachu's dismissal. Briles disputed that account, saying he talked with Peterson and there was no mention of the incident.

The school is also facing a federal lawsuit from a former student claiming the school was "deliberately indifferent" to rape allegations levied at a former football player Tevin Elliott, who was convicted in 2014 of sexually assaulting the woman.

The uproar following Ukwuachu's conviction caused Baylor to initiate the review by the Philadelphia law firm Pepper Hamilton, and to announce a $5 million effort to improve efforts on how it responds to sexual assault, including adding another investigator and more staff.

But the Ukwuachu case was just the start of months of revelations of football players being involved in violent incidents with little or no repercussions. At least seven other woman have publicly come forward to say the school ignored their sexual assault allegations.

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Josh Hart discusses NBA draft process, returning to Villanova

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Josh Hart discusses NBA draft process, returning to Villanova

Josh Hart said the decision wasn’t easy.

But he’s happy with it.

After withdrawing his name from the NBA draft to return to school (see story), Hart is excited to focus on Villanova, graduation and then the NBA dream.

“I love the school, I love the teachers, the student body, the support, my teammates that we have coming back,” the 6-foot-5 guard said Wednesday on Comcast SportsNet’s Philly Sports Talk. “So it was a tough one and I just thought at the end of the day, I think going back for my senior year would be in the best interest of my parents and myself.”

As a junior, Hart helped Villanova win its second national championship in program history by leading the Wildcats in scoring with 15.5 points per game while shooting 51.3 percent from the field.

Hart received plenty of feedback from NBA teams. He said shooting and ball handling are what he hopes to improve.

As far as his draft stock …

“There were teams interested maybe in the first [round], and then there were teams that said they would take me in the second,” Hart said. “But there’s a whole month before the draft, a lot of teams didn’t know exactly what they were doing with their picks — whether they were trying to trade up for a pick, trying to trade down, trying to trade a pick for a player. Several teams said that they would take me.”

For more from Hart on the draft and Villanova, watch the video above.

Delaware hires Martin Ingelsby as new head basketball coach

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Delaware hires Martin Ingelsby as new head basketball coach

Delaware has its new head basketball coach in Martin Ingelsby.

Ingelsby, a native of Berwyn, Pennsylvania, comes from Notre Dame, where he played from 1997-2001 and coached for 13 seasons, seven as an assistant.

Ingelsby played his high school ball at Archbishop Carroll and is the son of Tom Ingelsby, who played for Villanova from 1970-73.

Delaware is coming off a 7-23 season and 2-16 mark in CAA play, which led to the firing of head coach Monte Ross.

The Blue Hens, who announced the hire Tuesday, will formally introduce Ingelsby in a press conference Wednesday at 11 a.m. at Bob Carpenter Center Auditorium.