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Longtime Penn State University football coach Joe Paterno announced today that he will retire at the end of this season in the wake of a child sex abuse scandal that has shaken the university to its core.
The 84-year-old, who has faced heavy criticism for failing to contact police regarding reports that former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky was sexually abusing boys, said he wished he "had done more" to deal with the allegations.
As Penn State's head coach, Paterno has been the guiding force behind the Nittany Lions for more than four decades. His career has spanned 46 years and 409 wins, the most victories of any Division 1 college football coach in history.
"This is a tragedy. It is one of the great sorrows of my life. With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more," Paterno said in a statement announcing his retirement.
The coach met with his staff and players on Wednesday in what was described as a very emotional scene. Reuters reported that Paterno told them he was leaving and broke down in tears. His players gave him a standing ovation when he walked out.
But Paterno's resignation may not be enough to stem the outrage over the scandal and the alleged cover-up by school officials.
Earlier this week, two former staff members were charged with failing to alert the authorities after they were told that Sandusky had been seen sodomizing a young boy in the football locker room shower in 2002.
The board of trustees will meet in emergency session on Wednesday evening to discuss how to respond to the sex abuse scandal, Tom Poole, Penn State's vice president for administration, told reporters.
Read the full text of Paterno's statement:
"I am absolutely devastated by the developments in this case. I grieve for the children and their families and I pray for their comfort and relief.
I have come to work every day for the last 61 years with one clear goal in mind: To serve the best interests of this university and the young men who have been entrusted to my care. I have the same goal today.
That's why I have decided to announce my retirement effective at the end of this season. At this moment the Board of Trustees should not spend a single minute discussing my status. They have far more important matters to address. I want to make this as easy for them as I possibly can.
This is a tragedy. It is one of the great sorrows of my life. With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more.
My goals now are to keep my commitments to my players and staff and finish the season with dignity and determination. And then I will spend the rest of my life doing everything I can to help this university."