Former Governor Tom Corbett Reviews Sandusky Scandal, Decision To Fire Paterno

Years removed from his time as Governor of Pennsylvania and his spot on the Penn State Board of Trustees, Tom Corbett still has a few strong opinions on the administration’s decisions as he looks back to the Sandusky scandal. Meanwhile, he continues to do an about-face in regard to his own involvement through the years.

“A lot of mistakes occurred,” Corbett said in an interview with Radio PA.

The big question — still without any answers and likely just more complicated — is Corbett’s actions on the night of Joe Paterno’s firing and whether he believes that was the right decision. In the aftermath of the Board of Trustees’ decision to fire Paterno, the initial story was that Corbett made the final ruling — stating that the administration has to “remember the children when making the decision.”

Claiming in this recent interview that he did not submit a vote on whether or not to fire the head football coach, Corbett said that he was “not talking about Paterno” when he gave the Board of Trustees that advice.

Despite saying in 2014 that he believes it was the wrong decision to fire Paterno and that he should have been suspended instead, Corbett is now not willing to divulge his opinion on the matter one way or the other.

“I didn’t vote then, I’m not voting now,” said Corbett, despite acknowledging that “nobody’s going to believe that” he didn’t vote on the matter.

Corbett, who said he was on conference call during the meeting where the Board made the decision to fire Paterno, did weigh in that he was not happy with the choice to remove the coach from his post via the phone instead of meeting with him in person.

“I had no idea that they were just going to call Joe Paterno,” Corbett said. “Had I been there, I would have gone [to Paterno’s house]. As the governor, I would have been able to get in.”

Prior to his term as Republican Governor, Corbett was the state’s Attorney General who was at the helm for the start of the investigation into sexual abuse allegations against Jerry Sandusky.

He was criticized for not bringing Sandusky to justice sooner and the Office of the Attorney General released a report stating that authorities took too long to investigate Sandusky’s crimes. Corbett stated at the time that he did not have enough evidence to arrest Sandusky earlier, while the report cleared any of those “missteps” in the Sandusky investigation from being politically motivated.

Corbett believes those “mistakes” and the ensuing backlash from Penn State fans played a role in his failed attempt for reelection against Tom Wolf in 2014.

“I had one person come up to me after I lost the election in the fall,” Corbett said. “He was making a beeline right towards me — I went, ‘ok.’ He said, ‘are you Governor Corbett?’ I said ‘yes.’ He said, ‘we got you.’ And he pointed to his jacket. He had a Penn State jacket on.”