(STATE COLLEGE, Pa.) — Penn State alumni are angry at the firing of Joe Paterno and told the school’s president Wednesday night they want the board of trustees to step aside to give the university a clean slate.
More than 600 Penn State alumni grilled new PSU President Rodney Erickson during an emotional meeting about the university’s actions since the sex abuse scandal broke in November.
One of the two most emotional moments came when one woman who said she brought both of her babies home from the hospital wrapped in Penn State blankets, told Erickson, “A lot of that is because of our pride in PSU and the integrity of Joe Paterno. What you did to Joe Paterno is unconscionable.” Applause erupted from the crowd.
When the moderator read a question that stated, “What are the plans to realign the make-up of the board…. The board of trustees should step down,” the crowd rose in a standing ovation.
Paterno, 85, was abruptly fired in the middle this year’s football season after news broke that his former assistant Jerry Sandusky had been repeatedly accused of sexually molesting boys, but no one ever called the cops. The school’s former president was also dismissed and three athletic officials were removed from their posts.
Paterno, affectionately known as “Joe Pa” on the campus, had coached the nationally recognized football team for 61 seasons, including the last 46 years as head coach.
Erickson said that Penn State has a long and rich tradition and that Paterno had a big part in building that.
“We certainly want to honor Joe Paterno as the future unfolds,” he said.
Erickson did not give specifics, but promised the alumni that they would have an opportunity to celebrate Paterno’s career.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Andreas Preuss, CNN
Joseph Wenzel IV & Patricia Del Rio, CNN
Susie East, CNN