Mike McQueary won't coach Saturday

Updated: November 11, 2011, 11:02 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Penn State assistant coach Mike McQueary will miss Saturday's game against No. 19 Nebraska after the school said he received "multiple threats."

McQueary testified in a grand jury investigation that eventually led to child sex-abuse charges being filed against former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky. The ensuing scandal brought down longtime coach Joe Paterno, who was fired by the university on Wednesday amid growing criticism that he should have done more to stop the alleged abuse.

McQueary, who testified that he saw Sandusky sodomizing a boy in the shower, encountered similar scrutiny. The university's athletic department released a one-line statement Thursday night saying it would be "in the best interest of all" if the receivers coach didn't attend the season's final home game at Beaver Stadium.

Earlier Thursday, coach Tom Bradley, named by the school to replace Paterno on an interim basis, said it was up to university administrators to decide if McQueary should coach. Bradley also said he was not part of any discussion about potentially dismissing McQueary.

McQueary has not spoken publicly. His mother, Anne, said Thursday they have been advised not to comment.

Bradley said he is replacing Paterno with a heavy heart. He will coach 12th-ranked Penn State through the end of the season as the Nittany Lions vie for the Big Ten title and a Rose Bowl berth with three regular-season games to go. Bradley played for Paterno and has been on the staff for 33 years, and has been considered the leading in-house candidate to replace his Hall of Fame boss.

"I take this job with very mixed emotions due to the situation," a somber Bradley said at a news conference. "I have been asked by the board of trustees to handle this. I told them I would do it last night. I will proceed in a matter that Penn State expects."

"I have no reservations about taking this job," he added.

Bradley said he called Paterno after the firings Wednesday night but declined to divulge what was said.

"I think that's personal in nature," he said.

However, when asked, he was clear about his admiration of and devotion to the man he is replacing for the time being.

"Coach Paterno has meant more to me than anybody except my father. I don't want to get emotional talking about that," Bradley said. "Coach Paterno will go down in history as one of the greatest men, who maybe most of you know as a great football coach. I've had the privilege and the honor to work for him, spend time with him. He's had such dynamic impact on so many, so many, I'll say it again, so many people and players' lives."

He added: "It's with great respect that I speak of him and I'm proud to say that I worked for him."

Paterno does not plan to interfere in the coaching transition and won't show up at Beaver Stadium on Saturday out of respect for the coaching staff, a source told ESPN's Joe Schad.

Paterno announced Wednesday that he planned to retire at the end of his 46th season, but the outcry following the arrest of former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky on molestation charges over a 15-year period proved too much for the board to ignore. Paterno was fired Wednesday night, as was university president Graham Spanier.

"The university is much larger than its athletic teams," board vice chair John Surma said during a news conference. "The Penn State board of trustees tonight decided it is in the best interest of the university to have a change in leadership to deal with the difficult issues that we are facing."

Paterno's advisers have reached out to attorney J. Sedgwick Sollers, a prominent Washington criminal defense lawyer, about representing Paterno in connection with the scandal, NBC News reported.

Sollers has not met with Paterno and a retainer agreement has not been signed, according to the report. A spokesman for Paterno said "no lawyer has been retained."

A source close to Paterno said he is concerned that he will face civil lawsuits in the case, according to NBC News.

Sollers, the managing partner in the Washington office of King & Spalding, declined to comment Thursday night, according to the report.

As word of Paterno's firing spread, thousands of students flocked to the administration building, shouting, "We want Joe back!" and "One more game!" They then headed downtown to Beaver Avenue, where about 100 police wearing helmets and carrying pepper spray were on standby. Witnesses said some rocks and bottles were thrown, a lamppost was toppled and a news van was knocked over, its windows kicked out.

State College police said Thursday they were still gathering information on any possible arrests.

At a news conference late Thursday afternoon, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett asked Penn State students to refrain from the violence that wracked their town. He said students have the right to express their opinions, but not the right to violence.

Corbett said he supported the board of trustees' decision to force out Paterno and Spanier, saying he'd lost confidence in their ability to lead.

Corbett, who is on the 32-member board along with 10 appointees, made the comments after a second day of private meetings of Penn State trustees.

Asked if he thought that Paterno and Spanier didn't do enough to alert law enforcement out of safety of children, Corbett said he was disappointed in their actions.

"I support the board's decision," Corbett said. "Their actions caused me to not have confidence in their ability to continue to lead."

On Thursday, the White House said President Obama's thoughts and prayers are with Sandusky's alleged victims and that, if the allegations are true, then "what happened is outrageous."

Paterno had come under increasing criticism for not doing more to stop the alleged abuse by Sandusky. Some of the assaults took place at the Penn State football complex, including a 2002 incident witnessed by then-graduate assistant McQueary.

McQueary went to Paterno and reported seeing Sandusky assaulting a young boy in the Penn State showers. Paterno notified the athletic director, Tim Curley, and a vice president, Gary Schultz, who in turn notified Spanier.

A source told ESPN that Paterno recalls McQueary "vaguely" referencing "fondling" or "touching" or "horsing around" by Sandusky and a youth. But Paterno never had the understanding that McQueary had witnessed a "sodomy" or "rape."

Curley and Schultz have been charged with failing to report the incident to authorities. Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly has not ruled out charges against Spanier.

Paterno is not a target of the criminal investigation, but the state police commissioner called his failure to contact police himself a lapse in "moral responsibility."

In a related development, San Antonio police Sgt. Chris Benavides said Thursday his department is "looking into the possibility that an offense may have happened" while Penn State was there for the 1999 Alamo Bowl, Sandusky's last game as an assistant.

According to the Pennsylvania grand jury report, Sandusky took one boy to the game and threatened to send him home when the victim resisted his advances.

Harrisburg attorney Ben Andreozzi, who is advising some alleged victims, told The Associated Press that he's worried they could become scapegoats to people angry about Paterno's sudden departure.

The victims "are now watching people parade and riot" and "to think that is not in some way going to impact these victims is na´ve," said Andreozzi, who specializes in sexual abuse cases. He said he's working to provide therapy to the victims, but stopped short of saying he represents them.

Paterno said in his statement earlier Wednesday that he was "absolutely devastated" by the abuse case.

"This is a tragedy," Paterno said. "It is one of the great sorrows of my life. With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more."

The Penn State trustees had already said they would appoint a committee to investigate the "circumstances" that resulted in the indictment of Sandusky, and of Curley and Schultz. The committee will be appointed Friday at the board's regular meeting, which Gov. Tom Corbett said he plans to attend, and will examine "what failures occurred and who is responsible and what measures are necessary to ensure" similar mistakes aren't made in the future.

In Washington, the U.S. Department of Education said it has launched an investigation into whether Penn State failed to report incidents of sexual abuse on campus, as required by federal law.

"The past several days have been absolutely terrible for the entire Penn State community," Surma said. "But the outrage that we feel is nothing compared to the physical and psychological suffering that allegedly took place."

Sandusky, who announced his retirement from Penn State in June 1999, maintained his innocence through his lawyer. Curley has taken a temporary leave and Schultz has decided to step down. They also say they are innocent.

Sandusky is "destroyed" by what happened to Paterno, his attorney Jospeh Amendola told CNN.

Sandusky founded The Second Mile charity in 1977, working with at-risk youths. It now raises and spends several million dollars each year for its programs. Paterno is listed on The Second Mile's website as a member of its honorary board of directors, a group that includes business executives, golfing great Arnold Palmer and several NFL Hall of Famers and coaches, including retired Pittsburgh Steelers stars Jack Ham and Franco Harris.

The ouster of the man affectionately known as "JoePa" brings to an end one of the most storied coaching careers -- not just in college football but in all of sports. Paterno has 409 victories -- a record for major college football -- won two national titles and guided five teams to unbeaten, untied seasons. He reached 300 wins faster than any other coach.

The NCAA is watching developments in the case but will defer to criminal investigators for now.

"As the facts are established through the justice system, we will determine whether association bylaws have been violated and act accordingly," NCAA president Mark Emmert said in a statement Thursday. "To be clear, civil and criminal law will always take precedence over Association rules."

Emmert, a former University of Washington president, said he has read the grand jury report and finds the alleged assaults appalling.

"As a parent and an educator, the notion that anyone would use a position of trust to prey on children is despicable," he said. "My thoughts and concern go out to the alleged victims and their families."

Earlier this week, before Paterno was fired, Emmert called the allegations "gut wrenching."

Information from ESPN's Joe Schad and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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