Penn State trustee Anne Riley will never forget her father's last moments. They came quickly: a massive coronary attack, an unsuccessful attempt at resuscitation. He died in his friend's house and in his friend's arms.
That friend was Joe Paterno, the beloved head football coach Riley voted to fire just four days after police arrested former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky on child abuse charges. And if you think that decision was made lightly, the 1964 graduate is ready to tell you otherwise — forcefully.
"This is the hardest decision I've ever been a part of," she said tearfully in a closed news conference. "I found this situation to be terrible. But it was my duty to come around, and it took every single minute of those days."
It was an emotional cap to a long day, one that saw the Penn State board of trustees' most muscular efforts yet to regain control of a beleaguered university.
Amid alumni discontent and picketing outside their hotel, the 32-member board Friday promised new measures to address what ails Pennsylvania's largest university after the shocking charges that it may have harbored a child predator.
Penn State will pay for Sandusky's accuser's medical costs, they said, footing the bill for counseling and other abuse-related expenses. Trustees said the bills will be paid out of a special account. No taxpayer or tuition funds will be used. They also pledged to do their best to avoid lengthy litigation, sparing the accusers a drawn-out ordeal in court.
And in a hotel ballroom crowded with alumni and administrators, they released several recommendations for areas an ongoing internal investigation already found lacking: more background checks, the hiring of a universitywide compliance officer and the immediate confiscation of facility keys from employees upon their exit.
"The board did not want to wait for the work to be completed before making necessary changes," said Ken Frazier, trustee and investigating committee chairman.
He cautioned that the investigation may not be completed until the fall.
"We understand the answers cannot come quickly enough for all concerned," he said. "But we will not sacrifice thoroughness and completeness for expediency."
The board meeting at the Nittany Lion Inn on Penn State's campus was the first since the week following Sandusky's arrest in November, which spurred the firing of Paterno and the resignation of former President Graham Spanier.
Sandusky stands charged with 52 counts of child sex abuse. Prosecutors say he lured young boys from The Second Mile, a children's charity he founded in 1977, and molested them in his home, at hotels and in university facilities, among other places.
In a speech Friday morning, Penn State President Rodney Erickson called the past few months "an extraordinarily challenging time" for Penn State. He mentioned again the pledges he made to the university, including a thorough investigation and transparency throughout.
But he made few specific references to the scandal itself, and he never mentioned the man alumni watching from the audience later derisively nicknamed "he who shall remain nameless" — Paterno, whose firing at the board's hand has provoked intense emotion from some of the university's most devoted fans.
Even as acting athletic director David Joyner talked up new head coachBill O'Brien's pledge to honor those who came before him, Paterno's name never came up.
"Why can't we mention his name?" asked Anthony Lubrano, an alumnus and major university donor who is seeking a seat on the board. "It's like a pox. I wasn't expecting this kind of sanitation job."
Amid the scandal, Erickson said indications of alumni support were still strong: Donations to the university were up 10 percent over the previous year, he said, and alumni association membership has increased 2 percent. The closest he came to acknowledging his critics among alumni was a plea for civility.
"We need to find new expressions of gratitude for the good in our community," he said. "We need to learn and laugh together to restore our spirits."
Alumni felt differently. Former Penn State fullback Franco Harris presided over a Q&A session after the meeting, dispensing criticism on a board he says rushed to judgment in the week following Sandusky's arrest. And outside the hotel, a row of alumni held "Bored of Trustees" signs in protest.
"The board of trustees has ruined the reputation of our university," said Elizabeth Morgan, a 1987 graduate from Clearfield County. "We want to see due process for the victims, we want a completely independent investigation. We're basically here to show them we're not going away until we're satisfied."
Gov. Tom Corbett, an ex officio trustee who has dispensed with the custom of sending a subordinate in his stead, had plenty of praise for Penn State students during the meeting, saying they helped "calm" the campus after Paterno's firing.
But he later turned combative, refusing to vote on campus building projects because he didn't know which ones were funded with state money. And in a press conference afterward, he said Penn State has to figure out "whether they're going to be a public entity or a private entity" in regard to open-records laws.
"There is an aspect to this that they're a land grant college," he said. "I think it is something that is incumbent on the board that a decision has to be made."
In the press conference, he sat two seats away from trustee Karen Peetz, who was elected as chairwoman of the board Friday, replacing Steve Garban.
In a guarded but emotional address, Garban, who rose from humble beginnings as the son of a coal miner to become a football player and longtime administrator at Penn State, said he would not seek to remain chairman. He's been painted as an out-of-touch leader by critics, a trustee who waited days to read Sandusky's criminal complaint and voted with the majority to fire Paterno, his former coach.
It's worth noting, he said quietly during his address, that he made it through Penn State on a football scholarship.
"During these days, I have had some regrets," he said. "But one I don't have is that this board has been together, never forgetting their responsibilities, and acted decisively and unanimously. I'm proud to be a member of this board. There was never any doubt that this board will make the right decision keeping in mind the long-term interests of the students, faculty, all employees and the university itself."
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