STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) - Long time Penn State football coach Joe Paterno, the winningest coach in major college football history, has announced he will retire at the end of the season. The Hall of Fame coach has seen his legend shattered by a child sex abuse scandal involving a former assistant coach.
In a statement, Paterno said he was "absolutely devastated" by the case, in which his one-time heir apparent, Jerry Sandusky, has been charged with molesting eight boys over 15 years, including at the Penn State football complex.
The 84-year old Paterno says he hopes the team can finish its season with "dignity and determination."
Paterno held a meeting with his team and afterwards, quarterback Paul Jones said he'd never even seen a TV clip of Paterno crying. But when he announced he was stepping down, Jones says "he was crying the whole time."
Struggling to keep his emotions in check, Paterno stood in front of his players for 10 minutes Wednesday to say the words many already knew but never thought they'd actually hear.
The players gave Paterno a standing ovation at the end of the meeting. Paterno was somber as he left, while players still appeared to be in disbelief.
School trustees could still force him to leave immediately. It also could take action against the university president, Graham Spanier.
Paterno said the school's Board of Trustees, which had been considering his fate, should "not spend a single minute discussing my status" and has more important matters to address.
The complete statement is as follows:
"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.
I have come to work every day for the last 61 years with one clear goal in mind: To serve the best interests of this university and the young men who have been entrusted to my care. I have the same goal today.
That's why I have decided to announce my retirement effective at the end of this season. At this moment the Board of Trustees should not spend a single minute discussing my status. They have far more important matters to address. I want to make this as easy for them as I possibly can. 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.
My goals now are to keep my commitments to my players and staff and finish the season with dignity and determination. And then I will spend the rest of my life doing everything I can to help this University."
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