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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Republicans Debate in Michigan; Joe Paterno Fired

Aired November 09, 2011 - 22:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: It's 10:00 p.m. on the coast.

Good evening, everyone. I'm Isha Sesay. Anderson will be back in a moment.

The CNBC Republican debate just wrapped up in suburban Detroit, Michigan, just a short time ago, the focus, the economy. But since it was the first debate after four women came forward with sexual harassment allegations against Herman Cain, everyone was wondering, would that issue come up and how would it be received?

Well, the answer came early on in the debate. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARIA BARTIROMO, CNBC: In recent days, we have learned that four different women have accused you of inappropriate behavior. Here we're focusing on character and on judgment.

(BOOING)

BARTIROMO: You've been a CEO.

HERMAN CAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes.

BARTIROMO: You know that shareholders are reluctant to hire a CEO where there are character issues. Why should the American people hire a president if they feel there are character issues?

CAIN: The American people deserve better than someone being tried in the court of public opinion based on unfounded accusations. That's...

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

JOHN HARWOOD, CNBC: Governor Romney, when you were at Bain Capital, you purchased a lot of companies. You could fire the CEO and the management team or you could keep them. Would you keep a CEO -- are you persuaded by what Mr. Cain has said? Would you keep him on if you bought his company?

(BOOING)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Look, look, Herman Cain is the person to respond to these questions. He just did. The people in this room and across the country can make their own assessment. I'm not...

(CROSSTALK)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SESAY: Well, joining us live in Washington, CNN political contributor and Democratic strategist Paul Begala, also in Washington, CNN contributor and former Bush speechwriter David Frum of FrumForum.com. And in Cincinnati, Ken Blackwell, senior fellow at the Family Research Council and former Ohio secretary of state.

Good evening, gentlemen.

David Frum, if I can start to you, before I get to the Herman Cain issue, there was a gaffe by Rick Perry. He couldn't name three agencies of the federal government that he wanted to eliminate, even though he had vowed to eliminate precisely that number. Now, some are calling this potentially a fatal blunder to his campaign. What's your reaction?

DAVID FRUM, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it was an agonizing thing to watch. Anyone who has spoken in public has been through something like it before, but never in front of so many eyes. It was painful.

But it was painful because it exacted pain. Rick Perry has been in trouble for a long time. There is question of whether he's mentally up to the job of moving to the national level from the state level. I think his detractors saw what they feared. I think his contributors are going to be very discouraged.

SESAY: Ken Blackwell, what was your reaction to this blunder?

KENNETH BLACKWELL, FORMER OHIO SECRETARY OF STATE: I think it was a stumble. I don't think it was fatal.

SESAY: Stumble, but not fatal. Considering his performances in these past debates, he needed a good performance, right?

BLACKWELL: I think he, in this debate in total, he did just fine. Did he present an easy target for those who want to YouTube and underscore the stumble? Yes. But, look, Rick Perry is in this for the long haul. He has the money. He has the determination. He has the organization. And there will be more debates.

SESAY: All right.

Well, Paul, you saw in that clip that we played at the top of the segment that there were some really vocal members of the audience that didn't appreciate the moderators asking Herman Cain about those sexual harassment allegations.

Let me ask you this. Do you take that as a signal that the larger Republican electorate doesn't want to see Mr. Cain further questioned about all of this? PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it was hard to tell. The audience at a later point cheered when Congressman Ron Paul from Texas called for abolishing all student loans. And that's really not a population position for polling. I doubt it's even popular with for Republicans. But I will let my Republican friends speak to that.

I thought Mr. Cain handled it almost as well as you could. He didn't get into any more specifics, which I think was wise. He just sort of blanketly said again it just wasn't true. The audience did lift him up a bit. And I thought that Governor Romney, who was asked to comment on it, did a very smart thing. He said, no, no, that's for Mr. Cain to answer, not for me.

SESAY: David, were you surprised by that, the fact that Mitt Romney didn't take that opportunity to go after Herman Cain?

FRUM: I'm not at all surprised by it. Why would you step into the middle of that?

And, by the way, it's also the right thing to do. There's a lot about this that is unknown. And it's not all allegations. There are two settlements. We know about that, that money was paid. But it's not something that another candidate needs to get in the way of. It's between this candidate and the voters.

I think to your earlier question, I think it will matter. Half of Republicans are women and the other half, the other half that is men, I have -- my daughter who is starting her first paid job this year. She's 20. I look at this -- this kind of story with a pretty flinty eye. I think there are probably a lot of Republicans in the male half of the party who feel the same way.

SESAY: Ken Blackwell, you saw Mitt Romney standing aside and not taking advantage of that opening to go after Herman Cain.

But if Herman Cain's poll numbers remain strong and these allegations remain in the news, will that change? Will the candidates, in your view, change that strategy and go after this issue?

BLACKWELL: Oh, I think when you look at the two of the first three states in particular, South Carolina and Iowa, I think the voters of those states will sort these things out, and the other candidates don't have the need, or nor is it smart for them to go on the attack.

The voters are pretty smart. They take the measure of all the candidates, their character, their policies. And Herman Cain will work through the scrutiny of the voters.

SESAY: Let's focus in a little bit more on Mitt Romney.

David, Mitt Romney was pressed on his perceived flip-flop on the government bailout on the auto industry. I want to play a bit of his answer. Take a look and we will discuss.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: John, I care about this state and about auto industry like -- I guess like no one else on this stage having been born and raised here and watched my parents make their life here. I was here in the 1950s and 1960s when Detroit and Michigan was the pride of the nation.

I have seen this industry and I have seen this state go through tough times.

I think people understand that I'm a man of steadiness and constancy.

I don't think you are going to find somebody who has more of those attributes than I do. I have been married to the same woman for 25 -- excuse me -- I will get in trouble -- for 42 years.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SESAY: Not stats you want to get wrong.

Aside from the gaffe about his wife, how did he handle all this? It's a central criticism of Mitt Romney, that as a politician he is one that shifts with the political winds.

FRUM: Well, I don't think it's quite a fair criticism, especially on this point. There he was on a stage in Michigan, and he defended bankruptcy for the automakers. That takes some nerve.

He also has had a different position on what you do about the automakers, who are not central to the whole world financial system, and the banking system that went into crisis of October of 2008.

The managed bankruptcy has been something he did talk about for a long time. And I think some of the questions about the flip-flopping occur because Mitt Romney is trying to hold on to some more nuanced positions in the face of a party that is clamoring for red meat. He doesn't want to end his political career by telling the audience that they are wrong, but clearly there are important differences between him and some of these primary voters. And he has to walk a line if he's to be an effective nominee and an effective president.

SESAY: Gentlemen, we have to leave it there.

Paul Begala, David Frum, Ken Blackwell, thank you to you all. Thank you for joining us.

Coming up next, breaking news on the child sex abuse scandal at Penn State University, an emergency meeting by the university's Board of Trustees. We will have the very latest next.

Also ahead, "Raw Politics": Senator Rand Paul says President Obama is not interested in getting a budget deal from the congressional super committee, only getting reelected. We're "Keeping Them Honest" -- that and much more when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: "Keeping Them Honest" with major new developments in the child sex abuse scandal rocking Penn State University, that and questions, serious questions, about why so little was done for so long about the alleged rape of children, multiple abuse charges against a former assistant to the legendary coach Joe Paterno.

Today, Paterno, who's coached the Nittany Lions since 1950 and been head coach for the last 46 years, announced his retirement. This is new video of him today at a team practice for Saturday's Nebraska game. And that is part of the controversy. He said he's stepping down, but not immediately, not until the end of the season.

In a statement today, he said -- and I quote -- "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"

Paterno, who is the nearest thing to a secular saint in Pennsylvania and a hero to his players, drew their praise today for his decision.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALEX BUTTERWORTH, PENN STATE FOOTBALL PLAYER: I think as long as he has been here, he hasn't really ever made a wrong decision. He know what is he is doing. He has been doing it so long and if he thinks it is best for the program, chances are it is going to be the best thing for the program.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: But more and more, as you will see, people have doubts about his decision now not to immediately step down. Here's former Penn State legend Matt Millen today on ESPN.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MATT MILLEN, ESPN ANALYST: To be honest with you, and you can probably hear it -- and I apologize to you -- I get mad.

And it's -- it's pretty disturbing. It makes you sick to see that this could happen to this level. If, in fact, it has happened, then, you know, there's a part of me that, like I mentioned to you earlier, just viscerally, you just want to go take care of it yourself, which is what I have always done and which is the wrong thing to do.

But this is more than just a program. This is more than a football legacy. This is about people. And if we can't protect our kids, we as a society are pathetic.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Well, that's one criticism of his decision to stay on until the end of the season.

The other even more so is the decision back then, nine years ago, when the coach first heard allegations from a graduate assistant that Paterno's former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky was in the team locker room raping a 10-year-old child in the locker room. Sandusky is now charged with 40 counts of child sexual abuse involving eight minors over a 15-year time span.

Until today, he was featured on a massive mural on campus. Now he's gone, painted over by the artist, replaced by an empty chair with a blue ribbon signifying child abuse prevention.

Jerry Sandusky founded and ran a program for at-risk children, The Second Mile, which he allegedly perverted, turning it into a place, according to authorities, for grooming young victims.

In his statement today, Joe Paterno said -- quote -- "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."

And that's what troubles even some of his staunchest supporters. Paterno himself has said, talking about football -- quote -- "Throughout my life, I have always had the ability to concentrate on what has to be done. If I can do something about it, I go after it and I try to get it done by giving my best shot."

On field and off, Paterno has always preached doing the right thing, even if it's not easy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE PATERNO, PENN STATE HEAD FOOTBALL COACH: The thing that I feel strongly about, whether it's football and you want to learn something or not, is you listen. We have lost civility in this country. Nobody listens anymore.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Well, the suspicion and for some of the outright allegation is that when it came to his former assistant's alleged abuses, he did not do the right thing, that he did not give it his best shot, that instead he did the bare minimum, that he kicked the can to his superior.

SESAY: Breaking news right now on the child sex abuse scandal at Penn State University.

The university's Board of Trustees just announced the president of the university is stepping down. There's a press conference going on right now.

Let's go live to that press conference.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

JOHN SURMA, VICE CHAIRMAN, PENN STATE BOARD OF TRUSTEES: ... about that. At that point, there's been no change in his status.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: Sir, what was the driving reason of removing coach Paterno?

SURMA: In consideration of all the facts and the difficulties that we are encountering during this time, it was the trustees' view that it was in the best interest, long-term interests of our university to make that change.

QUESTION: When did you tell him?

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: When did you tell Joe Paterno?

SURMA: I can only answer one at a time.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

SURMA: The board deliberative process is, as it implies, a process that requires some time. There was information that we sought, although we don't know anything more about the actual details than the grand jury report and whatever you all write.

We were working through the not entirely consistent processes of wanting to act swiftly and decisively, but also to be thorough and fair. And that resulted in these actions tonight.

QUESTION: Sir, given the popularity of coach Paterno on this campus, how difficult a decision was this for you and your colleagues to make?

SURMA: Well, these decisions are never easy in any walk of life. And this one for many reasons, including those that you described, was difficult, but again, in the unanimous view of the trustees, was necessary in the long-term interests of the university and the difficult problems we find...

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) Can you confirm or deny those?

SURMA: I have no basis to comment on that report, which I guess we found imaginative, but not anything that is anything we can comment on.

(CROSSTALK)

SURMA: I can only go one at a time.

(CROSSTALK)

SURMA: As I mentioned, Rod Erickson, our distinguished provost, has agreed to act as interim president of the university effective immediately.

QUESTION: In the board's mind, should coach Paterno have alerted to the police when he first learned of the sexual abuse allegations in 2002?

SURMA: I don't know that I can characterize the board's view on specific determinations like that. Our view is a more -- larger view of what was necessary to move the university in the right direction.

The specific aspects of these terrible activities that occurred and terrible damage that was done really remain to be established by whatever law enforcement investigations are yet under way, as well as the investigation by our own Board of Trustees' special committee that we announced recently and we will provided more details on, on Friday.

(CROSSTALK)

SURMA: It's really premature for us to comment on, because we don't know what the actual facts and circumstances were. As I said, we have read the grand jury report, as I'm sure you all have. And beyond that, there's very little information that's available beyond that and we have to await the completion of multiple investigations.

QUESTION: When did you tell Paterno?

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: At what point did you notify Mr. Paterno of this decision?

SURMA: One at a time.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: At what point did you notify Mr. Paterno?

SURMA: I think that's more or less the same question. We made that notification earlier this evening.

(CROSSTALK)

SURMA: That's a (AUDIO GAP) We made the notification and that's really all we can say and all we should say.

QUESTION: Did you see him in person or over the phone?

SURMA: I would rather not characterize that either. We made a notification that we thought was appropriate and necessary.

QUESTION: You have let a man go that has been here for 46 years and you won't tell us whether you told him over the phone or in person?

SURMA: We did have a phone conversation. We were unable to find a way to get to do that in person without causing, we thought, greater distraction, and that was a conclusion that we made. QUESTION: You didn't think you owed him the courtesy to go to his house or talk to him in person?

SURMA: There's really nothing we can comment on, on that. We did what we thought was best.

QUESTION: What's your reasoning for dismissing coach Paterno now and leaving Tim Curley in administrative leave?

SURMA: There's a number of matters that the board has to address during the course of the week. I'm not saying those were them, but there's a matters that over time will get resolved and dealt with.

QUESTION: Will Joe's son Jay still be on staff?

SURMA: There's no change there at the moment. What happens in the long-term is a different question.

QUESTION: What about Mike McQueary?

SURMA: As I said, we're not aware of any change in his status. And there's really no more comment we could make on that personnel matter.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

SURMA: Well, I don't really want to get into what individuals should think or not think.

I would hope that our students and we would hope that everyone who cares about Penn State, our 95,000 students, our hundreds of thousands of alumni, the thousands of degrees which get awarded each year, our outreach for agriculture in every county of the commonwealth, I would hope that everyone would agree that what we are doing is what we believe is in our best judgment is in the best long- term interests of the university, which is much larger than athletic programs.

QUESTION: What do you say to the people who think you're making him the fall guy for this?

SURMA: Well, I think people can believe what they wish, but I think when the facts come out in a longer term, and we don't have them all here in front of us, and no doubt there will be additional facts which shed light on things. I have no idea what they are tonight.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: When you said there's going to be a full investigation, at the same time, what would you say to those who argue that this is a rush to judgment? There has not been a full investigation, so how could you reach this conclusion at this time?

SURMA: As I said, these are judgments and decisions and balances that boards have to make with thoughtful deliberation. In our view, things had reached a point where a change was necessary and we thought in the best long-term interest of the university.

QUESTION: Is the board aware that (OFF-MIKE) under a Department of Education investigation? And what's the larger message about how Penn State responds to allegations of sexual abuse on campus?

SURMA: I am just briefly aware of the matter that you just described and have no information on it, no real knowledge of it.

If there is another investigation by a federal authority, of course, we will -- the university will cooperate in every means possible. And beyond that, I really have no knowledge of it. And I think as we indicated in our statement yesterday, we intend to be as responsible as we can and make whatever changes are necessary to ensure that we have the highest standards of conduct.

QUESTION: Has coach Paterno been told he can go to the game on Saturday or to stay away?

SURMA: We did not discuss that matter.

QUESTION: We have talked to a lot of students over the past few days. What do you want to say to those who think that the university, the Board of Trustees has handled this matter poorly?

SURMA: Well, we handled it the best way we could with the information we had and with the time that was available to us, again, wanting to be decisive, but also wanting to be thorough and appropriately deliberate. Others are welcome to their own opinion. We believe we did the best job we could.

QUESTION: What would be the harm in letting the coach continue until the end of the season?

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: Can you define the term best interests of the university regarding coach Paterno?

SURMA: Not really, not for an individual. I think I will leave it all to you to describe -- to decide what the best interests -- I would say, though, that the current situation we're in, which, by all accounts, has its roots in a certain organization of the university, the situation we are in today is not in the university's best interests.

QUESTION: What would be the harm in letting the coach continue until the end of the season? What's to be gained? Tell me specifically.

SURMA: Well, I'm not sure I can tell you specifically.

In our view, we thought a change now was necessary. To enable or to allow this process to continue, we thought it was going to be damaging the university, and therefore we took the action we did. (CROSSTALK)

SURMA: One at a time.

QUESTION: Beyond personnel changes, are their cultural changes that need to happen at the university and what is the board going to do about (OFF-MIKE)

SURMA: I don't know that I could -- we don't know that we could put out hands on cultural changes, per se. I think our culture on the whole at Penn State is exemplary and very good.

In this instance, obviously it was not. I think we have a good culture. To the extent we need to improve it in certain areas, we will put our full energy into doing that. And that should be, I hope, the result of the investigation that would be conducted.

QUESTION: But does the board believe there was any wrong done here, and if so...

SURMA: The board doesn't know that and no one else does either. This is very early in the process. The facts are not established. The board doesn't really know that any more than anyone else does. And we will of course respect the law enforcement process that is still under way.

QUESTION: But you know the processes that were taken. You know the steps that the people involved took, whom they told. Do you think that was enough? Do you think more -- the authorities should have been alerted?

SURMA: I don't know that we know all of the steps that were taken. I don't think we know all of the activities that took place. I'm sure that we don't know that.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: You know who coach Paterno told. You know who Curley told.

SURMA: There is an investigation that will be undertaken by our committee and our special committee, with all the investigative resources they need. There are law enforcement activities still under way. So we are certainly not rushing to a judgment that suggests that we know all the facts. We don't.

QUESTION: So you don't rush to judgment when it comes to facts, but you rush to judgment when it comes to dismissing coach Paterno?

SURMA: Is that a question or a statement?

QUESTION: I'm asking you. Did you rush to judgment by dismissing coach Paterno?

SURMA: No. I think we had enough information to make the decision we did. QUESTION: Was there more information than the public knows about coach Paterno's involvement in this case to justify the board's actions?

SURMA: Not necessarily, no.

(CROSSTALK)

SURMA: This was a collective judgment that we weighed all the factors and what we thought we needed to do to move the university in the right direction. There's really nothing more that I can say about that, so...

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: When was coach Bradley informed that he would be the new coach?

SURMA: Coach Bradley was informed by our acting athletic director and the provost.

QUESTION: By phone?

SURMA: I don't know how that happened. I think it may have been.

(CROSSTALK)

SURMA: One at a time.

QUESTION: John, with respect to the previous answers that you have given, why now?

SURMA: Well, today was the day that our board felt we had sufficient deliberation and a sufficient view that was consistent among the directors and trustees that -- and we reached that judgment today.

I can't say why it's today vs. tomorrow vs yesterday. It's the way the board deliberation process works.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: Are you guys concerned about the backlash that you're going to get from the university and from the students?

SURMA: We hope that in the long run and maybe hopefully also in the short run, that our students will agree that what the trustees have undertaken is in their interests, as well as all the other students and alumni and children that are in Hershey and everything else that depend on this university to move in the right direction. And it hasn't been in the last week.

(CROSSTALK)

SURMA: I'm sorry. One at a time. (CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: ... severance package?

SURMA: The president serves pursuant to a contract that was entered and it has a variety of contractual provisions that deal with certain circumstances. This is probably one of those. And it will be adhered to, whatever that may be. And I think there is probably some financial settlement in that case.

QUESTION: Was the board caught off guard by Paterno's retirement announcement, and was that part of the decision, sir?

(CROSSTALK)

SURMA: I'm sorry. A better answer?

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

QUESTION: Are you concerned about the students, about their reaction to this matter at all?

SURMA: Of course. The students are important to us, but I think this is something that our job was to make this determination. And we did the best we could. And, certainly, people that may have a different view, they're welcome to it. That's the American way and that's the Penn State way. But I think in the long term, we have done the right thing.

(CROSSTALK)

SURMA: I'm sorry.

QUESTION: Did coach Paterno know (OFF-MIKE)

SURMA: No idea.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: Sir, are you aware about the number of students that were marching back and forth on campus when they thought there was a possibility of this happening? And, therefore, what are you concerned about happening tonight?

SURMA: I think we have to do what we think was the right thing to do in the circumstances. There may be actions and reactions that flow from that. We can't make our decisions based on what may happen. We have to do what we think is right. I'm confident that the university and our students will behave in a proper manner.

QUESTION: Have you made any contingency plans for (OFF-MIKE)

SURMA: Not that I'm aware of, although our administration is very adept at handling these sorts of affairs. And I'm sure they're prepared for whatever eventualities there may be.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: Can you give us an idea of the vote? Was it unanimous?

SURMA: Unanimous.

QUESTION: John, to what extent was the board caught off guard by coach Paterno's retirement announcement, and did that influence at all the step you took tonight?

SURMA: I don't know what off guard means. It was a piece of information that arose at the point. It didn't really have, I don't think, any effect on what we did tonight. So there's really not much I can say about that.

QUESTION: Was this in the works yesterday, as "The New York Times" reported? Was there a plan being formulated yesterday?

SURMA: Well, we had been discussing the matters at issue and our response to them on a very regular basis en banc, on the phone, in person, since this occurred.

(CROSSTALK)

SURMA: So -- well, I think the entire sweep of activities has been under discussion. And, certainly, that was among those. And tonight is where we ended up.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

SURMA: I think I already answered that once, but...

QUESTION: No, you didn't.

SURMA: I thought I did. If I didn't, I apologize.

There are a number things that we have to attend to that sort of flow from all the things that have happened. And we will deal with things point by point.

QUESTION: Such as?

QUESTION: What should Joe Paterno have done originally...

(CROSSTALK)

SURMA: Oh, I'm not -- I have no idea how to answer that question and don't intend to.

QUESTION: The Department of Education has launched an investigation into this investigation because of their failure to comply with federal laws that (OFF-MIKE) the reporting of abuse. Did that factor into your decision at all? SURMA: No. I think -- no, to be honest, that report came in during our discussions. And I have not even read it. All I saw was a brief headline. I'm sure other of the administration are focused on it. As I said, any investigation, of course we comply with fully.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: What was coach Paterno's reaction?

SURMA: I'm sorry.

QUESTION: What was coach Paterno's reaction?

SURMA: I don't want to characterize that. That's not really fair for me to do. I think it's really up to him for speak for himself. I'd rather not characterize that.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: Who made the call?

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: ... staff remain intact for this next -- rest of the games?

SURMA: I don't know any reason not, but I don't really know how to comment on that. That's a matter that we're going to leave to the administration, the acting president, the acting athletic director. So if there's anything to say about that, you'll hear it from them. The chairman and Mr. Berman (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I can't characterize individual behavior. That would be unfair for me and suggests that we know more than we did.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do you justify the firing of these two people?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We thought that, because of the difficulties that have engulfed our university, and they are grave, as is documented, that it was necessary for us to make a change in the leadership, to set a course for a new direction. And I'm not about to try to attach that to specific reasons, issues. That's the board's collective judgment. And that's what we did.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maybe there should be a new board.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are aware that (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Considering I'm here, probably not.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you considered changing the board? Have you considered changing the board? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is a process for trusteeship. You can read about it on the trustee Web site.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People are asking you for justification for tonight firing Coach Paterno instead of letting him finish out his career with...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've told you all I can tell you about that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why is that all you can tell us about that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is he subject to compensation?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is he what?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Subject to compensation?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will he be paid?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Again, there are -- there are some contractual arrangements that -- that will be respected. Those details have not been addressed, and I'm really reluctant to speak to them, because I don't have the details at hand. And as a matter of courtesy, we ought to let the parties and their representatives work those things out. But there will be some...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you considering any other personnel decisions?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On our immediate agenda tonight, no. These were the matters that we were focused on. We're sort of answering the same questions again. So...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think you can all make your own determination.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We want you to make them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not prepared to.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's made a great contribution to the university. We all agree to that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have, I think, a number of work schedule -- work discussion times scheduled, whether we use them or not. We just don't have that all figured out yet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is the university going to pay the legal fees of Curley and Schultz.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think we tried to consider everything we had at our disposal. We all know that.

I'm advised by my colleague that there are two more questions allowed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will you still pay the legal fees of Curley and Schultz?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know the answer to that right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know the answer to that either.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is there any pressure from outside, like the governor's office or anyone else...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. No. We received -- we sought information, opinions from different sources, voluntarily, but, no, our deliberations were always the board and just the board. And our decisions are the board and just the board.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you say...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Last question.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you say to the perception that the board has been gunning for Joe Paterno since '04 and this provided the perfect opportunity for...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have absolutely no knowledge of what you're talking about and therefore say nothing to it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A trustee to help the team from losing so...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have no idea. I have no idea what you're talking about. I can't talk about that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. I think we've got to go.

SESAY: There you have it, the press conference ending there at Penn State University. The breaking news tonight, Graham Spanier, the president of Penn State University, is stepping down. Coach Joe Paterno is also being removed from his position, effective immediately. That was just announced just moments ago after an emergency meeting of the Penn State Board of Trustees.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The board of trustees and Graham Spanier have decided, effective immediately, Dr. Spanier is no longer president of the university. In addition, Joe Paterno is no longer the head football coach, effective immediately.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SESAY: Let's go live now to Mike Galanos, who's there at Penn State campus.

Mike, how surprising is this decision that Spanier and Paterno are out of their jobs, effective immediately?

MIKE GALANOS, HLN CORRESPONDENT: Not as much, Isha -- not as much Spanier. He's the president, and he's the one that OK'd the final punishment of that 2002 incident, just to take the keys away from Mr. Sandusky so he couldn't go back in the locker room.

What you're hearing behind me is the students are flocking to the Old Main building, Isha. They are upset that Joe Paterno is out. He will not be allowed to coach another game at Penn State. Forty-six years, 46 seasons he has been the head coach at Penn State. No more. The man they call Joepa is out.

They've been chanting different chants, singing the alma mater. One of the chants was "Joe Paterno." Another one, "We want Joe back." And they continue to chant, and students continue to flock on this historic night in State College, Pennsylvania. Because I don't think anybody thought Joe Paterno's career would end like this. One of the -- he's the winningest coach in college football history. Let's say that. And he also ran what we thought was a squeaky-clean program.

But what was going on that we did not know about came to light, and Joe Paterno, did he do enough? That's been the argument.

As you hear now, students continuing. He knew. He didn't call police, and I think that's one of the points of contention here, Isha, as we continue to follow this. And again, watch the students flock to the Old Main building, Isha, and just hear their voices that are going to be heard tonight, and they're just beginning.

SESAY: And Mike, as we look at these pictures of these students gathering there, it looks as if some have signs. Is this just a spontaneous congregation in response to this news? Was it planned? What do you know about what's taking place here?

GALANOS: Well, you could catch the buzz. I mean, these students wanted to know what was going to happen. I think they expected the president to go. They did not expect Joe Paterno to be told, "You cannot coach here any longer."

Isha, I had a chance to talk to a lot of students today. Across the board, 100 percent of these students were in support of Joe Paterno. They wished he'd have done more in that incident back in 2002, but they thought he should be able to coach these final two games and then resign. But that's not the case tonight.

SESAY: People watching this at home who maybe aren't big football fans are going to find this hard to kind of wrap their heads around, how -- considering the gravity of these charges, how Joe Paterno can be in such standing among the students. Help us understand, because I think it speaks a little bit to the kind of school Penn State is and the importance of the culture of football.

GALANOS: That's a great question and, again, I keep talking about that 2002 incident. Let me -- let's go back there. 2002, a graduate assistant says he sees Sandusky, the former assistant, sexually assaulting a 10-year-old boy in the showers. He goes and tells his father. Then his father tells him, "Go tell Coach Paterno."

So he tells Coach Paterno, and Coach Paterno tells his superiors but does not tell police officers. And that is what's going on here. So that -- that's the latest. Getting themselves set up here. And so that's what we're talking about as we continue to listen to the chants from these students.

SESAY: Yes, Mike, stand by. Let's just listen in a little bit to some of the sights and take in the scenes.

OK. Now they're chanting about Jerry Sandusky. Again, he is the assistant coach that's at the eye of this storm, facing seven counts of deviate involuntary sexual intercourse as young as 8, eight potential victims over a 15-year period. So he is the one that this is all about.

But the investigation is all about, did Joe Paterno do enough? And that has been the question; that's been the debate all along. Here on this campus, they thought he should have done more but he should have kept his job. And you can hear the students. Their voices are going to be heard tonight, Isha.

SESAY: Michael, I want to make sure that I didn't mishear you. Did you say that they were -- that one of the chants now was about Sandusky?

GALANOS: Yes, I couldn't make it out. It was -- you could hear, like, the end of it was something Sandusky. But I couldn't make it out. So obviously, he is the villain here in all this. And the beloved Joe Paterno's out because of the actions or the alleged actions of Jerry Sandusky.

SESAY: You know, it was brought up in the press conference as to whether there would be some kind of backlash there on the campus to the board of trustees' decision. You've been there. You've been talking to students. What do you think?

GALANOS: Well, the way things are going right now, and the way we've seen students flock to this Old Main building, they are pumped up, to say the least. And you can hear it, and you can see it. And we hope, and everyone said, we hope cooler heads prevail. Yes, their voice is going to be heard. Their hero is no longer the coach of Penn State. We hope that they -- it's all -- only that, their voices heard. That's it.

SESAY: Mike, stand by for us, if you will. The crowd is certainly getting more and more boisterous. Stand by.

On the phone joining us now is Cory Giger, a reporter for the "Altoona Mirror" newspaper and ESPN Radio 1450.

Cory, what do you make of this news tonight that Paterno is out, as is Spanier, the university president?

CORY GIGER, REPORTER, "ALTOONA MIRROR" (via phone): Well, this is the most stunning day in the history of Pennsylvania sports. I mean, really, when you see headlines on a TV station that say "Joe Paterno fired as Penn State head coach," we all knew that the end would be coming at some point. We've all talked about how it might end, what might lead to the end, but this is really the worst-case disastrous scenario. I mean, this is absolutely shocking and stunning that it would come down to this.

SESAY: Is it the right move on the part of the board of trustees, in your view?

GIGER: It's definitely the right move. Joe Paterno forced their hand. He could come out today and in his statements, that "I will just step down." He forced them to do this. And he could have shown leadership today by stepping down and teaching his young men on his football team an example. Instead, he forced the hand of the board of trustees. They had to make this move. He no longer could be the face of the Penn State football program after all of these allegations.

SESAY: Cory, I don't know if you can see these incredible scenes playing out on campus right now. The students have come together, and they are clearly voicing their displeasure at the decision that Paterno is out. What goes through your mind as you look at these pictures with us?

GIGER: This is absolutely tragic. I mean, these young people need to understand there is more to this situation than football. There is more to this situation than a football coach. These are young people's lives that have been destroyed through this scandal, this sex scandal that's taken place since 1998.

These young people, college kids, they get fired up. They get riled up easily. They follow their friends down to certain things. There's alcohol involved. You just hope these young people exercise some sort of discipline here tonight. Because no one wants to see these young people destroy Penn State or State College. That would further damage the reputation of this terrific place to live.

SESAY: Yes. And you know, what makes this scandal and these allegations all the more shocking is that, as you know, Penn State is a school that, till this scandal, was known as being squeaky-clean. We've seen other schools deal with scandals of lesser degrees, but to have this come out of Penn State makes this scandal all the more shocking for so many people.

GIGER: Absolutely. Their motto is "Success with Honor." They are one of only a handful of BCS conference football programs that has never been found guilty of an NCAA violation, a major infraction. They are very proud of that here. They are very proud of their reputation, their tradition. They have always been, you know, above board. Joe Paterno has been a legend and created an institution here that -- helped create an institution here that shaped and molded the lives of so many people. And to see it come to this, I mean, just really for all of us who live here in central Pennsylvania, these are absolutely just stunning events that no one will forget for the rest of their lives.

SESAY: Cory, stand by. Mike Galanos, still with us. Stand by us also. We're just getting a statement from Penn State president. We're going to have it for you in just a moment. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SESAY: More now on the breaking news from Penn State University. Just announced a short time ago, the university's president and legendary head football coach no longer have jobs in the wake of the child sex abuse scandal. The board of trustees announced that President Graham Spanier will be replaced and Coach Joe Paterno is being removed from his position, effective immediately.

Earlier, Paterno had planned to retire at the end of the season, saying he was devastated by the developments in the case, grieved for the children and their families, and prayed for their comfort and relief.

These are stunning developments in this scandal. So many allegations against former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.

Joining us again, Mike Galanos at the Penn State campus. On the phone, Cory Giger, sports reporter for the "Altoona Mirror" newspaper and ESPN Radio 1450, and Jason Carroll in State College. He's been on this story since the beginning. And Sarah Hoy, who just spoke with Joe Paterno.

Sarah, what can you tell us? What did he say?

SARAH HOY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via phone): Yes, there was about 20 to 30 campus students here who came to his house. His wife visibly upset, called through the window, said Joe would come out. He did come out and he addressed the students.

He said, "Listen, all I can tell you is I'm not the coach anymore." He shrugged his shoulders. And he just said, "It's going to take some time to get used to. It's been about 61 years. It's going to take some time to get used to."

The students then began to kind of cheer. They said, you know, "We love you, Joe. Thank you, Joe." Everybody clapped. (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

SESAY: Sarah, this is a guy who, from people I've spoken to that know this school, he's considered a living legend.

HOY: He really is. And this is, you know, somebody who people have grown up with. You could liken him to somebody's grandparents, for that matter. So he does have a very well liking, a very big following, and these people are young. They seem to be in their 20s and all very supportive of him. They said, "Love you." They said, "Thank you. We're going to miss you." And he just said thank you to them and retreated back into his house.

SESAY: And I don't know how long ago you left that location. What was the scene there?

HOY: Literally, literally -- he literally just closed the door.

SESAY: He literally just closed it. Describe the scene outside the house now.

HOY: Right now the street is very quiet, no street lights. It's very, very quiet. Students are still here kind of milling about, in pairs, if you will. Kind of murmuring amongst themselves, not making a scene at all. Just kind of talking it through, almost like a wake, if you will.

SESAY: So stand by for us. I want to bring in Mike Galanos, because what you describe is a very different scene as to what he is seeing at his location there on campus also where the crowds of students appear to be growing. And Mike, describe what you're seeing and hearing.

GALANOS: Well, what's going on here. They gathered at the Old Main building. They had some students speaking. They were chanting, and then they yelled "Beaver Canyon," and then everybody runs towards the streets. And that's what you see, the students running towards us and toward our camera, Isha. It is quite a scene. These students are emotional. They're going to have their say. And we're just battening down the hatches. They're running right toward us right now.

SESAY: And you think they said -- I hear them shouting "Beaver." Where are they going?

GALANOS: Right -- where they're running right now is toward the small downtown area here where there are restaurants, bars, things like that. They're probably going to take over the streets and continue to chant and continue to have their voices heard tonight.

SESAY: Mike, let me bring in Jason Carroll. He's been on this story since the very beginning.

Jason, you've been speaking to people. You've been speaking to officials as well as students. Are you surprised by these scenes that have erupted there on campus?

CARROLL: I'm not surprised, simply because you could see throughout the week how so much has been growing on both sides of this issue. A number of students had supported Joe Paterno. Those on the other side of this issue, you know, I just remember just the other night when students gathered in front of Joe Paterno's home and chanted "Joe, Joe, Joe, we want you to stay."

But you also have to remember what Joe Paterno said at that moment in front of his house, when he announced that he was going to try and stay on. He even admitted at that point, he said, you know, "In hindsight, I wish I had done more."

So it's very clear that Joe Paterno, in the wake of all this, having time to sort of sit and think about his actions, what some people would say his inaction, that he actually has regret about what he has done.

And even though he obviously thanked those who came to his house, he said at that moment that his heart went out to the victims, as well. And so when you watch all of these scenes of people who are out there, running around, you have to wonder, is that what Joe Paterno would really want at this time?

Also, you know, I did have an opportunity to speak to some of Paterno's players, a few of the players earlier today. And they basically told me, "Look, we feel as though in terms of him trying to stay on for the rest of the season and retiring when the season was over, that was the right move for him, the right move for the team and the right move for the university." You have to wonder now what these players are going to think, now that the board has decided to remove him and not allow him to finish the season.

A stunning end in some ways for a man who, up until just this week, had a very distinguished career.

SESAY: And Cory Giger, if you're still with us, what will his legacy be now?

GIGER: His legacy has clearly been tarnished by all this. This will be in the first chapter of his legacy. I don't know that it's the first sentence. I was asked that earlier today. Someone phrased it that way.

He still has done so many wonderful things on the field, off the field. He's raised an incredible amount of money for the university. He helped build this university. His legacy will be -- most of his legacy, I do believe, a large portion of it, will still be that he has been an unbelievably huge figure at this university, at this state.

But there's no doubt about it, this scandal is so ugly, it's so tawdry, it's so disgusting, it's probably the biggest college scandal in sports history. I mean, this has just -- it's taken and stunned everyone. And he will -- whether or not it's all his fault -- no, it's not. This all falls on Jerry Sandusky. But the way Joe Paterno and many other Penn State officials have handled this, they have tarnished not only his legacy but the legacy of a great university, a great town.

And these kids out here doing what they're doing, they're tarnishing the legacy of Penn State University and State College, Pennsylvania, because they are acting like morons out there, and hopefully, no one gets hurt. But this is embarrassing what they're doing out there. They're making themselves, State College, Pennsylvania, and Penn State University look even worse on a global scale right now.

SESAY: Mike Galanos, Cory Giger, Jason Carroll, Sarah Hoy, thank you to you all. Stay with us, though. We're going to continue this conversation. Coming up next, more on the breaking news from Penn State University. We'll take a closer look at the timeline of this scandal and how it got to this point. Both Joe Paterno and the president of the university out of a job, effective immediately. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SESAY: Breaking news tonight: legendary Coach Joe Paterno out of a job at Penn State University. The president of the university also being replaced. That was announced just a short time ago by the university board of trustees. Right now, a closer look at the time line of this scandal and how we got to this point. Jason Carroll has that.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CARROLL (voice-over): The allegations of rape and sexual abuse by Jerry Sandusky stretch back as far as 1994, when he met his first alleged victim, a 10-year-old boy, through his charity for troubled youth, the Second Mile.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is a case about a sexual predator, accused of using his position within the community and the university to prey on numerous young boys for more than a decade.

CARROLL: And at least three times, Sandusky's alleged abuse was seen by or reported to employees at Penn State.

In 1998, at this indoor practice facility, it's alleged that Sandusky inappropriately touched an 11-year-old boy in the shower. The boy's mother reported the incident to university police. That prompted an investigation by the university that included listening in on phone calls of the mother confronting Sandusky.

According to the grand jury report, Sandusky replied, "I was wrong. I wish I could get forgiveness. I know I won't get it from you. I wish I were dead."

Sandusky also admitted the incident to the Pennsylvania Department of public Welfare, saying, "It was wrong." But despite that admission, no charges were filed, and he was simply advised not to shower with children again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Joe Paterno.

CARROLL: Despite being the one-time heir apparent to head coach Joe Paterno, Sandusky retired the year after this incident but maintained an office and access to university buildings as a professor emeritus at Penn State.

In 2000, at another athletic facility, a janitor allegedly saw Sandusky in the showers, quote, "with a young boy pinned up against the wall, performing oral sex on the boy." The janitor told his immediate supervisor what he saw, but neither man reported the incident to Penn State authorities or law enforcement. Then in 2002, an alleged incident at the same athletic facility.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sandusky was seen committing a sexual assault on a young boy of about 10 years of age and was reported to university officials by a graduate assistant who happened to be in the building late one Friday evening.

CARROLL: That graduate assistant, Mike McQueary, reported the incident to Paterno. Exactly what he reported is in dispute.

Paterno said in a statement, "It was obvious that the witness was distraught over what he saw, but he at no time related to me the very specific actions contained in the grand jury report."

"The New York Times" reports that a person familiar with McQueary's version of the conversation said Paterno was given explicit details of the assault.