Graham Spanier: I Never Asked Joe Paterno to Resign

EXCLUSIVE: Former Penn State president talks about his relationship with the famed football coach.
3:00 | 08/23/12

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Transcript for Graham Spanier: I Never Asked Joe Paterno to Resign
Wanted to ask about your relationship. And obviously he was there when you were there purses as professor. Obviously there when you return -- how would you. Characterize. Your. Relationship just now. It was one of my great privileges and life to have an opportunity to work with Joseph Paterno hand. I would say that we had as good a relationship. As any university president and head football coach -- That's another way of saying it wasn't perfect sounds -- have -- -- you know well there was always a little bit of tension because. My job was to oversee the university. And Joe's job was to oversee the football program and we occasionally disagreed on things and Joseph can be a handful. -- thought he was. In my estimation a person of great leadership ability. He wanted Penn State to be a great university. He always put academics first we were always pattern here. The top -- graduation rates. He didn't break rules. Penn State was only one of two universities. In the country that never had a nature NCAA. Infraction. And -- was very committed to that he would keep players out of an important game if they missed -- class. He disciplined players. We had some times over the years where we might have disagreed on an issue I consulted with him when. NCAA rules were up for a vote for the university needed to take a position on any given matter. He was always very respectful. He came to my office for all meetings I was never in his building for a meeting. He would always tell me -- the president you have to make the final decision. Occasionally he would convince me that we needed to take a different point of view and sometimes I would convince him. If we didn't agree on a particular issue like where the new baseball park was going to be. I would make the decision and if he didn't like it he knew that I was the president needed to make that decision. -- Cho was was great to work -- I saw him I'm sure more than most presidents. -- football coaches once or twice a week throughout the year and we rarely talked about football because he was involved in so many other ways and fund raising -- and academic programs and its supporting the library for example. Word you more powerful than Joseph Paterno. I would -- Joseph was more. Revered. And more influential but in terms of decision making at the university yes I was more power. I want to ask you about -- 2004. You in the board of trustees decided it's time for Joseph Paterno to retire. In the new -- biography currently available. -- in fact says that. Actually he refused. -- -- Well I had to accept I read that part of the biography and and that's not quite right so what will what is your assumptions and all right here's here's the story. We had had some down seasons we were not doing well at that point in time and -- -- knew that. The football program was struggling. And he was taking very seriously about retirement and maybe now is the time change. Joseph actually called those meetings and it wasn't just one meeting we had I would say three meetings maybe four point three that I can remember in which he broached the subject guys I'm thinking about -- one weekend after -- that we met. And he said you know I'm thinking about retiring. He had already begun to contact other coaches around the country to see if they would be willing to succeed -- Whether if they did succeed him they might keep on some of his assistant coaches. And we went through those discussions. If this -- at the end of the year and we always had such discussions at the end of the year these particular discussions involved. Gary Schultz Tim Curley and we also -- chose request. He asked that Steve Garvin. Who is and a member of the board of trustees but had been a former colleague of Joe's and a former member of the football team. Attend those discussions as well. They were good discussions and they were not contentious. As is his biography points out although. From the notes apparently that he made before those meetings he was thinking they might be contentious and preparing report. I don't want to overstate it though because there's no question at that point in time we did have some members of the board of trustees who felt it was time. But at the end of our last discussion -- said look I've been thinking about this since her meeting last week. And I think with a few changes. May be a couple of changes in the coaching staff. And with the players the personnel we have coming back and recruits we have coming -- I can turn this around. I'd like another season to turn it around. And if we're not -- for if we end up at 847 and five -- I know it's time but I think I can do better and he came back and he did better. So I supported him in Spain so in so it's not sure that you tried to. You wanted him to retire and he just said no we went into that meeting. Thinking. That it was a discussion about his retirement because he had advised me. That he was thinking along those lines. We ended up with -- names on the table he went through a succession of four names. Coaches that he would have discussions with he was. He was that close. To wanting to do you never asked for his resignation will never. The board of trustees never reply -- I never in -- entire time as president of Penn State asked for his resignation. Joseph was planning on retiring this year we had an agreement -- that a signed agreement actually. And he and -- and Tim Curley. And just a few leaders of the board of trustees. Who -- take it into my confidence. As appropriate. New one way or another this was going to be his last year. But he wanted to didn't we wanted him to have courtesy of announcing it.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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