STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - Joe Paterno said he was not "going to say anything about" the demand by the National Organization for Women that he quit as Penn State coach for his comments regarding the recent sexual assault accusation against Florida State linebacker A.J. Nicholson, ESPN reported.
"Most people know me. I am what I am,'' Paterno told ESPN.com. "I had no intention . . . it was taken out of context. Having said that, they have every right to do what they want to do."
Paterno’s remarks came a day before the Orange Bowl, when a reporter asked about Florida State linebacker A.J. Nicholson, who was accused of sexual assault and sent home before Tuesday’s game.
Paterno replied by talking about past suspensions of Penn State players. He then added: “There’s some tough — there’s so many people gravitating to these kids. He may not have even known what he was getting into, Nicholson. They knock on the door; somebody may knock on the door; a cute girl knocks on the door. What do you do?”
“Geez. I hope — thank God they don’t knock on my door because I’d refer them to a couple of other rooms,” Paterno continued. “But that’s too bad. You hate to see that. I really do. You like to see a kid end up his football career. He’s a heck of a football player, by the way; he’s a really good football player. And it’s just too bad.”
"If my kids calls for [my resignation], if my squad calls for it . . . but when people don't know what they're doing are looking for publicity or trying to give publicity to their cause or looking for some sort of scapegoat, no, it doesn't bother me,'' he told ESPN.com.
Joanne Tosti-Vasey, president of the National Organization for Women in Pennsylvania, said Sunday that she was “appalled” by Paterno’s comments last week and that they represent an institutional insensitivity that endangers women.
Tosti-Vasey issued a news release calling for Paterno to apologize and step down from the post he has held for 40 years. She sent an e-mail to Paterno and the university president the next day, but said Sunday she has not heard back from either.
Penn State spokesman Bill Mahon said Sunday that Paterno’s comments were taken out of context. A spokeswoman at the NOW headquarters in Washington said the organization’s president, Kim Gandy, supports the call for Paterno’s resignation.
Guido D’Elia, communications director for Penn State football, said Paterno made his remarks in the larger context of distractions in the bowl-game environment. Nor, he said, did Paterno intend to make light of the assault allegations.
“I think if you were present, you understood he meant no malice,” D’Elia said Saturday. “If you heard his tone, he really thought it was too bad for everybody. He was concerned for everybody.”
No charges have been filed against Nicholson, although police in Florida said the matter remains open.
Tosti-Vasey said Sunday that Paterno’s comments are the latest in a series of insensitive actions by the university’s athletic department. The Pennsylvania NOW branch criticized the university in 2003 after a football player accused of sexual assault was allowed to play in a bowl game.
Last year, former Penn State women’s basketball player Jennifer Harris started a discrimination complaint against coach Rene Portland, claiming that she was harassed by the coach to change her appearance because she was not “feminine enough.”
CFT: In a shocking move, QB Everett Golson is no longer enrolled at Notre Dame.
CFT: Former Penn State signalcaller Steven Bench joined the South Florida Bulls, he announced on Twitter.
Video: Football from NBC Sports
HBO Real Sports: Bill O'Brien
Penn State football coach and 2012 National Coach of the Year shares the challenges in turning around a program shattered by scandal. Real Sports premieres Tuesday, May 21 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on HBO.
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