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STATE COLLEGE, Pennsylvania – Joe Paterno's legendary tenure as the head football coach at Penn State has come to an abrupt end.
The Penn State University Board of Trustees announced at a press conference on Wednesday evening that Paterno would no longer be allowed to coach.
"Joe Paterno is no longer the head football coach effective immediately," said Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees John Surma. "These decisions were made after careful deliberations and in the best interest of the university as a whole."The acting presidents have named assistant coach and defensive coordinator Tom Bradley as interim head coach.
Penn State president Graham Spanier was also removed as president of the university. Rod Erickson, executive VP and provost of Penn State University has been named interim president.
"The Board of Trustees and Graham Spanier have decided that effectively immediately, Dr. Spanier is no longer the president of Penn State University," Surma announced.
The board met for slightly more than two hours on Wednesday night.
The Pennsylvania State Department of Education is also launching an investigation as to how Penn State handled the situation and whether it violated federal law requiring the disclosure of criminal offenses on campus.
Paterno was scheduled to have a press conference on Tuesday but the university canceled it before it could get underway.
He then released a statement on Wednesday that he would be retiring as Penn State football coach at the end of the season, but his farewell tour was cut short by the board's decision on Wednesday. The Board Vice Chairman stressed that Paterno's decision to retire at the end of the season was not a factor in the board's decision.
The firing comes in the midst of a sexual abuse scandal that implicated university officials and former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.
Sandusky has been charged with 14 felony counts and 19 misdemeanor counts for allegedly abusing eight victims over the course of 15 years.
Sandusky allegedly made contact with the boys through The Second Mile, a charity he founded for at-risk youth which involved football programs on the Penn State campus.
Gary Schultz, PSU's senior vice president for finance and business, and Tim Curley, Penn State athletic director, were charged with perjury and failure to report to authorities what they knew of the allegations, required by law.
Paterno said he was not given the graphic descriptions of the alleged crimes in 2002 when the assaults allegedly happened. He said Penn State graduate assistant Mike McQueary told him at that time that something potentially sexual in nature and disturbing had happened.
Paterno said he referred the matter to university administrators, including Curley. But Paterno has been widely criticized for failing to notify the police or taking any action beyond reporting the incident to his supervisors. Allegedly, no one ever reported the police or further pursued the issue.
Law enforcement officials stated that Paterno met his legal obligations by reporting the incident to his superiors, but might be on different moral ground for leaving the incident at that.
Paterno was in his 46th season as Penn State's head coach and 62nd overall with the program.
He is the NCAA's Division I leader in all time wins, a record that he set Oct. 29 of this season against Illinois.