When news of the sex-abuse allegations involving Penn State's football program went viral earlier this week, Michael Holsinger said he teared up.

The football dynasty that took nearly five decades for legendary coach Joe Paterno to build seemed as if it was crashing down by the second, said York Township's Holsinger, a 2002 graduate of Penn State.

Within a couple of days, Holsinger said Paterno's record of 409 career major college football wins and reputation of following the NCAA rules by the book were a thing of the past.

The moment Holsinger dreaded arrived Wednesday morning: The 84-year-old coach announced his decision to retire at the end of his 46th season with the Nittany Lions.

But Paterno might not be able to execute his exit strategy, as the university's board of trustees is still considering its options, which could include forcing Paterno to leave immediately.

Paterno has been besieged by criticism from across the nation since his former defensive coordinator, and one-time heir apparent, Jerry Sandusky was charged over the weekend with molesting eight young boys between 1994 and 2009.

In a statement released Wednesday, Paterno described the scandal as one of the "great sorrows" of his life and says he wishes he had done more.

Although the legendary coach has not been accused of legal wrongdoing, state police commissioner Frank Noonan said he should, and could, have done more to stop Sandusky, who maintains his innocence.


Paterno has been ridiculed for his failure to follow up on a 2002 incident where then-graduate assistant Mike McQueary, now an assistant coach, told the head coach he witnessed a boy who appeared to be 10 years old engaged in sexual activity with Sandusky.

Although Paterno passed along the information to the university's athletic director Tim Curley, he never contacted the police, the 23-page grand jury report said.

Penn State junior Ryan Althoff of Dallastown said Paterno, and other university administrators who failed to follow up on the sex-abuse allegations, should be held accountable for their actions.

Althoff said it's a shame Paterno had to end his career under such circumstances and that this scandal doesn't change his opinion on his coaching achievements.

"This whole ordeal has, however, changed my perspective of him as a person. Even though I don't look up to him as much anymore, he's still a great coach," said Althoff.

While Holsinger said Paterno has overstayed his position as head coach, he doesn't think Paterno should be forced out of the university over these allegations.

"Let us just blame Sandusky and keep the man who has donated millions of dollars to the university and has a library named after him left alone over this. (Paterno) is a very moral man," said Holsinger, 32.

Holsinger said Paterno, a man he grew up idolizing from the stands of Beaver Stadium, is a great man who deserves to be allowed to finish out the football season out as the head coach. He said the media used Paterno as a scapegoat since he's the "face of the Penn State."

-Reach Lauren Whetzel at 505-5432 or lwhetzel@yorkdispatch.com.