Penn State : Cohen: Board of Trustees disrespects Paterno in phone-call firing

first_imgSTATE COLLEGE, Pa. Unidentified courier: Hey, Joe. Inside this envelope is a phone number you need to call. See ya later.The phone rings and is answered by an…Unidentified Board of Trustee member: Hey, Joe. Thanks for calling. You’re not the football coach anymore.Joe Paterno: ……Is that really how it happened? Truly sad if that’s the way Joe Paterno’s final five minutes as head coach played out. That after 46 years of dedication and investment both financial and emotional to Penn State, the Board of Trustees firing him over the phone is insulting.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textAccording to an article on, Paterno received an envelope Wednesday evening 15 minutes before the Board of Trustees made its announcement about Paterno’s termination. The letter was delivered to Paterno by an unnamed courier and contained a phone number inside for him to call.He did so, and at least one member of the Board of Trustees informed Paterno that he was fired.John McEnroe’s famous line applies here almost as well as it did at Wimbledon in 1981: You cannot be serious.Jim Boeheim concurs.‘Why didn’t they call coach Paterno in?’ Boeheim asked on the weekly AmeriCu Jim Boeheim Show Thursday. ‘He’s only been there 60 years. And say, ‘Coach, we’ve decided to make this change.’‘I don’t think they had the guts to do it. Then they send a messenger to say ‘call this number.’ If I was the coach, I wouldn’t have called any number. I would’ve just … in no way done that.’And Paterno shouldn’t have either. He deserves better than that. The winningest coach in Division I football who lives less than five minutes away from campus by car should have received an in-home visit to tell him of his termination.But the phone call was made by Paterno as he and the Penn State program are torn apart by a sex abuse scandal. Jerry Sandusky, a long-time defensive coordinator for Paterno who retired in 1999, is charged with a series of sexual assaults involving young boys, including the alleged rape of one boy in Penn State’s football facility shower.Paterno, however, did all that was asked of him after he was made aware of the situation by reporting the incident to then-athletic director Tim Curley.Could he have done more? Yes. Should he have done more? Yes, Paterno will tell so. But the fact remains that no charges have been filed against him, and he fulfilled every obligation he had as the head coach of the Nittany Lions by telling his boss.‘I respect what he’s done as a coach and that hasn’t changed,’ Boeheim said on his show. ‘Obviously what he did as a person was not the right thing, along with a lot of other people at Penn State.’And it’s what he’s done as a coach that warrants him of more than a phone call, even with the surrounding scandal.Paterno arrived in State College in 1950 as an assistant coach and never left. It’s where he met his wife, Sue, in the library that currently bears their name (Paterno Library) after the couple helped raise upwards of $13 million to put toward the renovation.He’s been a study hall monitor for freshman football players. His statue welcomes fans into Beaver Stadium, which wasn’t built when Paterno arrived and now seats 106,572 as a result of his success at the helm of the Nittany Lions.There is even a class taught about Paterno Comm 497G: Joe Paterno, Communications & the Media.‘The way it was carried out was awful,’ freshman bio engineering major Paul Kucinski said. ‘A man who has spent almost 50 years of his life as head coach dedicated to a single institution, donated literally millions upon millions of dollars to a single place does not deserve to go like that and be fired over a phone call.’The timing for the firing likely played a role in sparking the riots on College Avenue as well, according to multiple students. Announcing the news at 9:45 p.m. in a ‘drinking town,’ as doctoral student Peter Buckland called it, was simply asking for trouble.The result was thousands of students rioting on College Avenue. A few took it too far, flipping cars and tearing down light posts. But the majority of people were there out of disbelief and adoration of Joe Paterno, as evidence by the chants in his honor.That the decision absolutely had to be made Wednesday night and couldn’t have possibly waited until first thing on Thursday morning seems unlikely and is another discourtesy in itself.Thrust into the chaos was interim coach Tom Bradley, who was in charge of the defense prior to Paterno’s firing and has been on the staff for 33 years.And at his first press conference in charge of the Nittany Lions, his praise for Paterno shone through the disturbing information uncovered in the past few weeks. Bradley spoke to the last 46 years as a whole.‘Coach Paterno has meant more to me than anybody but my father,’ Bradley said. ‘ … It’s with great respect that I speak of him. I’m proud to say I’ve worked with him.’Like Paterno, Boeheim has come to define his university as well. After nearly 50 years at Syracuse, Boeheim is to SU as Paterno was to Penn State.As such, he can likely imagine the horrible feeling in Paterno’s stomach when he was dismissed over the phone. It’s simply unfair to a coaching legend.‘I think he’s one of the great, great coaches we’ve ever had in any sport,’ Boeheim said on his show.  ‘And I’m very sad that this is what happened.’Michael Cohen is the sports editor for The Daily Orange, where his column appears occasionally. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @Michael_Cohen13.  Comments Published on November 10, 2011 at 12:00 pm Contact Michael: [email protected] | @Michael_Cohen13center_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img