Joe Paterno Speaks: 'Say a Prayer' for Victims of Alleged Child Sex Abuse

Penn State football coach thanks supporters outside his home.

ByABC News
November 8, 2011, 11:32 AM

Nov. 8, 2011— -- Penn State football coach Joe Paterno briefly came out of his home this evening hours after university officials canceled his weekly press conference to speak to supporters as his program and the school were reeling from a child sex abuse scandal.

Paterno, who is not only the winningest coach in major college football history but has done it while maintaining a program often held up as what college sports should be, today faced reports that the university board of trustees might try to force him out over allegations against one of his top former assistants.

"I've lived for this place. I've lived for people like you guys and girls," Paterno said to the hundreds of fans cheering outside his home this evening. "It's hard for me to say how much this means.

"As you know, the kids that were the victims, I think we ought to say a prayer for them," he said.

Paterno, 84, didn't answer when he was asked if he was still the coach.

Earlier today, Paterno's son said reports of his father being ousted by the Penn State board of trustees were premature.

Scott Paterno, who has been acting as his father's spokesman since the sex abuse scandal that has rocked the university came to light, sent out a Twitter message today that referenced aNew York Times report that the board was in the process of planning Joe Paterno's exit from the university "within days or weeks."

"NYT report premature. No discussions about retirement with JVP," he tweeted.

Scott Paterno also said that he was "working on" setting up a press conference for his father off campus to address questions about the coach's involvement in the alleged cover-up of the crimes.

Paterno's former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky was arrested Saturday for allegedly molesting eight boys, at least one of which Paterno allegedly was told about. Paterno was scheduled to have a news conference earlier today, but it was abruptly cancelled by campus officials.

Outside of his home today, Paterno told reporters and fans that he wanted to have the news conference, which was cancelled just an hour before it was set to begin.

"I know you guys have a lot of questions and I was hoping I was going to be able to answer them today," Paterno said. "We'll try to do it as soon as we can. Can't do it today."

Penn State officials also said today that they had not heard that the iconic football coach is getting the boot. Representatives from the public information office, board of trustees, and football department all denied being told anything that pointed to Paterno being removed from the head coach position, which he's held for 46 years.

The football department said that Paterno will be at the helm of the team as it plays Nebraska this Saturday. A board member told that the news of Paterno being forced out "sounds like a crazy report," but that she had no first hand knowledge of the meetings taking place.

The chairman of the board, Steve Garban, was unable to take phone calls and had meetings scheduled all day, according to his family.

The Times report came after public appearances by Paterno and university president Graham Spanier were both cancelled today in the wake of the devastating sex abuse scandal that has triggered calls for their resignations.

The university said the cancellation was due to the "on-going legal circumstances centered around the recent allegations and charges," and would not be rescheduled.

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