The Penn State assistant football coach who said he saw a former assistant coach in a shower with a young boy and reported it to head coach Joe Paterno will not attend the school's home football game Saturday for his own safety.
"Due to multiple threats made against Assistant Coach Mike McQueary, the university has decided it would be in the best interest of all for Assistant Coach McQueary not to be in attendance at Saturday's Nebraska game" the school's athletic department said in a written statement.
The threats against McQueary follow a night of student riots over Paterno's firing Wednesday evening, on the one hand -- and, on the other, remarks by Pennsylvania's governor saying that he approved of the schools decision to dismiss Paterno and university president Graham Spanier.
The news also came as Pennsylvania's two U.S. senators said they were withdrawing their support of Paterno to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, according to The Associated Press.
Sens. Pat Toomey, a Republican, and Bob Casey, a Democrat, along with Rep. Glenn Thompson, R-Pa., nominated Paterno for the nation's highest civilian honor in September.
Thompson would not say whether he, too, would be withdrawing his support for Paterno, the AP reported.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett, however, seemed anything but supportive of the legendary coach today. He said he approved of Paterno and Spanier's firings because he had lost confidence in "their ability to lead."
Corbett spoke a day after Paterno and Spanier were booted over their handling of a sex abuse scandal involving young boys and a former assistant football coach, Jerry Sandusky.
This evening, Sandusky, through an attorney, denied all charges related to his alleged abuse of young boys and said he is devastated that Paterno got fired.
Paterno, 84, was dismissed despite his own statement earlier in the day that he would retire at the end of the current season.
The governor, a Republican, said he supported the action by the board of trustees and he criticized Paterno and Spanier.
"I was disappointed in their actions. ... Their actions cause me not to have confidence in their ability to lead," Corbett said referring to Paterno and Spanier.
Their firings came after two other top school officials were charged with perjury and failure to report sex abuse, allegedly committed by Sandusky.
One incident involved a 10-year-old boy allegedly raped by Sandusky in a locker room shower. McQueary, then a graduate assistant, witnessed the alleged attack and told Paterno. The coach told his superior, who alerted Spanier, but no one called police.
Corbett said that before the board unanimously to dismiss Paterno and Spanier, he "reminded them we must remember that 10-year-old boy."
The governor also addressed Penn State students, telling them that "the eyes of the nation are on you. ... When you chant 'We are Penn State,' make sure you are Penn State at its best."
Angry students flipped over a television van, knocked a lamppost onto a car, threw toilet tissue and rocks at police and set off fireworks Wednesday night.
Police met the rioting crowds with tear gas as it became clear that the army of officers, who were out in riot gear, were far outnumbered by students. Every local police department in the county contributed officers to the effort to control the crowd, along with state police and the county sheriff's department.
At least two students were arrested and at least one injury was reported after a girl who was hit in the head with a rock was taken to the hospital.
Penn State Nittany Lions quarterback Matt McGloin tweeted this morning: "This is a tough time But the outrage we are feeling now is nothing compared to what the victims are going through.keep them in our prayers."
Paterno announced Wednesday that he was "absolutely devastated" by the scandal and would retire at the end of the season, will not get to leave on his own terms. Penn State's head coach of nearly five decades will not coach another game, according to the trustees.
"Right now, I'm not the football coach, and that's something I have to get used to," Paterno said, according to The Associated Press.
As he spoke, people gathered at Paterno's house and were seen crying. Paterno eventually came out to suggest the students go home and study, and thanked them for their continued support.
"I am disappointed with the board of trustees' decision, but I have to accept it," he said in a statement. "A tragedy occurred, and we all have to have patience to let the legal process proceed. I appreciate the outpouring of support but want to emphasize that everyone should remain calm and please respect the university, its property and all that we value."
Federal Investigation of Penn State Allegations
The end of the line for Paterno and Spanier at Penn State came a few hours after the U.S. Department of Education announced it was launching an investigation into whether university officials mishandled the allegations.
The Education Department is checking to see if the university failed to comply with the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act (the Clery Act), which requires colleges to disclose reported criminal offenses on campus.
"If these allegations of sexual abuse are true, then this is a horrible tragedy for those young boys," Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in a news release. "If it turns out that some people at the school knew of the abuse and did nothing or covered it up, that makes it even worse. Schools and school officials have a legal and moral responsibility to protect children and young people from violence and abuse."
Sandusky has been charged with abusing at least eight boys over 15 years.
Athletic director Tim Curley and Vice President for Finance Gary Schultz were charged Tuesday with not reporting the sexual abuse to police and lying to a grand jury under oath during the investigation.
Paterno has coached Penn State's football team for 46 years and is the winningest coach in top level college football ever.
"I have been incredibly blessed to spend my entire career working with people I love," he said in his written statement following his dismissal. "I am grateful beyond words to all of the coaches, players and staff who have been a part of this program. And to all of our fans and supporters, my family and I will be forever in your debt."
Tom Bradley has been named interim coach for the rest of the season, John P. Surma, vice chairman of Penn State's board of trustees, told reporters this evening.