News conference canceled amid reports Paterno departure is near

University also cancels Renaissance Fund dinner


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STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Amid a report that Joe Paterno may soon be out as Penn State's head football coach, the university canceled his weekly news conference that was set to begin at 12:30 p.m. today.

The cancellation comes amid a scandal that has enveloped university administrators over allegations that former coach Jerry Sandusky sexually abused children in campus facilities.

"Due to the ongoing legal circumstances centered around the recent allegations and charges, we have determined that today's press conference cannot be held and will not be rescheduled," Sports Information Director Jeff Nelson said, reading from an unattributed, prepared statement.

Paterno's son Scott told The Associated Press that the decision was made by President Graham Spanier's office.

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Scott Paterno said his father was disappointed and was prepared to take questions about the scandal as well as the upcoming game against Nebraska.

The New York Times is reporting that sources say Paterno's tenure as coach will soon be over, in days if not weeks. Discussions have begun about how to manage his departure, though the precise timing has not been determined by the board of trustees, the Times reported, citing two unidentified sources.

On Twitter, Scott Paterno called the report premature and said his dad will be on the sideline Saturday for the game against Nebraska at Beaver Stadium.

Others close to the situation told the Post-Gazette that Paterno's support is eroding among the trustees.

The 84-year-old Paterno's latest three-year contract extension ends after this season.

Paterno, wearing a blue Penn State jacket, emerged from his his house about 2:15 p.m. and was surrounded by reporters as he made his way to a car to go to his team's practice.

"I know you guys have a lot of questions and I was hoping to be able to answer some today, but we'll try to do it as soon as we can," he said.

In response to reporters' questions about his job status, his son, Scott Paterno, said, "No one has asked him to step down."

"Nothing has changed at this point," Scott Paterno said. He said his father still planned to coach the team Saturday.

A crowd of a couple dozen students yelled, "Joe Paterno!" when they saw him, with a few shouts of "We love you, Joe!"

As he got in his car, Paterno said, "I want to talk."

Meanwhile, a poll of Pennsylvania residents released today showed mixed support for Spanier and Paterno. In the KDKA-TV Newspoll conducted by SurveyUSA, 51 percent of repsondents following the story said Spanier should resign, 28 percent said he should not, and 21 percent were not sure. When asked whether Paterno should resign, 40 percent said yes, 45 percent said no, and 15 percent were not sure.

Penn State wide receiver Derek Moye told the Post-Gazette today that he has not heard of any exit plan for his embattled head coach.

"We know what you know," said Moye, a fifth-year senior co-captain from Rochester High School.

"I have strong feelings about it, but everyone is sticking together," Moye said. "The team is fine. Of course, we don't like it."

Moye said all of the team's assistants, including wide receivers coach Mike McQueary, have been at practice this week.

"We have a goal to win the Big Ten championship," Moye said. "We're trying to stay focused on the season."

The Nittany Lions (8-1, 5-0 Big Ten) meet Nebraska Saturday.

Also today, the university said its 35th annual Renaissance Fund Dinner that had been scheduled for Wednesday night has been postponed until spring.

Mr. Spanier said today he took the action because "our attention is so heavily focused right now on the troubling charges by the Attorney General."

The annual dinner highlights an individual or couple for their service and contributions to the university and surrounding community.

This year's dinner was to have honored Mr. Spanier and his wife, Sandra, a professor of English at Penn State.

According to the university, the annual dinner raises money in the names of the honorees. The money helps endow Renaissance Fund scholarships that go to academically worthy students that the university describes as having great financial need.



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