Nightly News | November 10, 2011
WILLIAMS: Good evening.
BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: A sexual abuse scandal is tearing apart the fabric of a storied institution, Penn State University . The legendary football coach and the university president are out. And even though this is a scandal over the alleged predatory abuse of innocent boys and the failure to stop it, last night the nation watched as some Penn State students turned to violence, protesting the firing of coach Joe Paterno on a campus famously devoted to college football . They were warned today by the governor of Pennsylvania that the nation is now watching their behavior. The irony of course here, not enough people were apparently watching the behavior inside Penn State 's football program going back over a decade. NBC 's Ron Mott starts us off tonight from State College , PA. Ron , good evening.
RON MOTT reporting: Brian , good evening to you. Joe Paterno 's final day as Penn State 's football coach was full of drama and intrigue. The coach seemingly tried to control just how he would exit this campus after all these years , but in the end it was the board of trustees that seized that control and fired him.
Mr. JOHN SURMA Jr. (Penn State Board of Trustees Vice Chair): Joe Paterno is no longer the head football coach effective immediately.
MOTT: After 46 years atop the throne of Penn State 's football kingdom, Joe Paterno got a phone call Wednesday night trumping his planned retirement, leading to his immediate ouster instead and that of the school's president.
Mr. SURMA: We thought that because of the difficulties that have engulfed our university, and they are grave, as you all have documented, that it was necessary for us to make a change in the leadership to set a course for a new direction.
MOTT: Hours earlier, the 84-year-old Paterno declared he would step down at the end of the season saying in a statement, the board "should not spend a single minute discussing my status," adding "I want to make this as easy for them as I possibly can."
Mr. MIKE LUPICA (New York Daily News Columnist): He wanted one more Saturday because he thought he was owed that. He didn't even deserve that.
Unidentified Student: JoePa! JoePa!
MOTT: The immediate reaction on campus to Paterno 's firing was violence, students overturning and damaging vehicles, shouting obscenities about the former assistant coach charged with child sexual abuse . Police used pepper spray to quell their protests. Today, more measured responses emerged.
Mr. DANNY KELLY (Penn State Student): I kind of have mixed feelings because the town, like, should be upset. But on the other hand , JoePa could have done more.
MOTT: For the man tapped to replace the fallen legend, Paterno 's longtime assistant Tom Bradley , it's now about moving forward.
Mr. TOM BRADLEY: Coach Paterno has meant more to me than anybody except my father. I've got to find a way to restore the confidence and to start a healing process.
Group of Students: We are Penn State !
MOTT: As Penn State readies for its final home game Saturday against Nebraska , student leaders called for calm and respect, especially for the alleged victims who've come forward.
Ms. ANNA THOMAS (Penn State Senior): It's about the victims, it's about the actions that occurred and it's about us standing by them and their families.
MOTT: In contrast to the scene that we saw that unfolded here on this campus last night, Penn State students are planning a candlelight vigil tomorrow night in hopes of refocusing attention to the victims of this alleged sexual
abuse. Brian: Ron Mott on the campus of Penn State tonight. Ron , thanks.