Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett said Thursday that former Penn State head coach Joe Paterno "probably" should not have been fired. "They probably shouldn't have fired him, they probably should have suspended him," Corbett told The Inquirer. "He probably should have been given the last three games, not on the sideline."
"They probably shouldn't have fired him, they probably should have suspended him," Corbett told The Inquirer. "He probably should have been given the last three games, not on the sideline."
Corbett was a member of Penn State's board of trustees who moved to fire Paterno in 2011 after longtime assistant coach Jerry Sandusky was charged in a sex abuse scandal. Sandusky was convicted on 45 counts of sexual abuse, and Paterno and former president Graham Spanier were fired in the aftermath.
Paterno died less than three months after he was fired.
Corbett told The Inquirer that he feels "sad for the people who believe that" he is responsible for Paterno's death.
"It's not the case," Corbett told The Inquirer. "Obviously cancer killed Joe Paterno."
Corbett lost his bid for re-election to Tom Wolf on Tuesday.
A Philly.com story from Wednesday alleges that a group called Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship chose to vote against Corbett in Tuesday's election because Corbett "did not give Paterno the benefit of due process."
The group's spokesperson, Maribeth Roman Schmidt, said the group was "so frustrated in the way the governor didn't act in the best interest of Penn State and in the best interest of children."
Paterno, said Schmidt, "was a victim of a stampede to judgment and Tom Corbett was leading the charge."
Schmidt said her group also faults the governor for not speaking out against a report, commissioned by the university and conducted by former FBI director Louis Freeh, that was highly critical of how the school handled information it received about Sandusky's abuse of children.
In June, Corbett told The Associated Press that "he has never condemned the late Penn State coach Joe Paterno for his actions regarding now-convicted child sex abuser Jerry Sandusky, and he never will."
In July 2012, Penn State accepted NCAA sanctions that included the vacating of all wins from 1998 to 2011, scholarship restrictions, a postseason ban and a $60 million fine that would go toward programs to help prevent child abuse.
Internal emails released Wednesday show high-ranking NCAA officials debating whether they had the authority to penalize Penn State since the Sandusky scandal involved criminal matters and not necessarily any athletic competitive advantage.
- Sarah Barshop