Thousands of students at Penn State turned their “happy valley” home into a riot scene in response to the firing of head football coach Joe Paterno on Nov. 9. Amid chants of “We want JoePa,” students, according to a report, turned over a van, toppled lamp posts onto cars and threw toilet paper and firecrackers in protest of the removal of Paterno two games before the end of the season.

Police, outnumbered by the students, used tear gas to quell the protests, which went on until the early morning hours of Nov. 10.

Paterno, 84, was fired by the trustees following the 43-count indictment of former Nittany Lions Assistant Coach Jerry Sandusky for sexual abuse of minors over a 15-year period.

“The Penn State board of trustees tonight decided it is in the best interest of the university to have a change in leadership to deal with the difficult issues that we are facing,” board of trustees vice chairman John Surma said, according to the Associated Press.

When asked what Joe Paterno had done wrong during the press conference announcement, Surma said, ”I can’t characterize that. We thought because of the difficulties that have engulfed our university, it was necessary to make changes.”

University and local law enforcement officials, according to, say that Paterno is not the target of any criminal investigation and that he fulfilled his legal requirements by reporting up the chain of command what he was told by then-graduate assistant Mike McQueary, who said he witnessed sexual activity between Sandusky and a young boy in a campus shower.

State law officials said Paterno, an icon of college football, did not fulfill his moral obligation in the situation.

“I am absolutely devastated by the developments in this case,” Paterno said in a statement reported by “I grieve for the children and their families, and I pray for their comfort and relief.

“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.”

Also fired with Paterno on Nov. the wake of the investigation and indictment of Sandusky is Penn State President Graham Spanier.

The dismissals came after the resignations of two of the school’s top administrators. Athletic Director Tim Curley and Senior Vice President Gary Schultz– the administrators Paterno notified in 2002—stepped down Nov. 6. The next day they surrendered to law enforcement officials under indictment for not reporting the alleged assault to authorities.

McQueary, whose account of what happened in a campus shower sparked the week of tumult, was at first set to continue with the team, but on Nov. 11, he was also placed on administrative leave.