Outgoing Governor Tom Corbett now says Penn State football coach Joe Paterno “probably” should not have been fired in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal.
Corbett told The Philadelphia Inquirer that Paterno instead should have been suspended for the remainder of the 2011 season.
“They probably shouldn’t have fired him, they probably should’ve suspended him,” Corbett told the Inquirer on Thursday. “He probably should have been given the last three games, not on the sideline.”
Paterno planned to finish the season and retire after Sandusky, his former defensive coordinator, was arrested in Nov. 2011. Hours after his announcement, however, the university’s board of trustees voted to fire the legendary coach.
Corbett lost his re-election bid Tuesday and became first Pennsylvania governor to be denied a second term. He acknowledged to the Inquirer that his involvement with Penn State “might have been one factor” in losing to Democratic challenger Tom Wolf.
“You know me, I have to have evidence on everything,” Corbett told the Inquirer. “If it was clear [Paterno] understood and did not do anything, yeah. But I’m not sure it was clear to him. And, technically, he complied with the law.”
Corbett, as governor of Pennsylvania is also a Penn State trustee, and in a 2012 interview he seem to defend the board’s decision to fire Paterno.
“As governor and board of trustee member, I have to do what I think is best for the university,” he said in the 2012 interview, “For the state of Pennsylvania, that’s what I’ve done. I know not everybody is going to like it.”
The governor’s latest comments follow the release of internal NCAA emails that were exchanged before Penn State accepted unprecedented sanctions in July 2012.
The emails revealed the NCAA attempted to “bluff” Penn State into accepting the sanctions. One NCAA official wrote that the organization was banking on the fact that the university “is so embarrassed they will do anything.”
The penalties included a $60 million fine, a temporary bowl ban and the elimination of 112 football team wins.
The emails were disclosed in a court filing in a case brought by two state officials who sued to keep the fine money within Pennsylvania.