UNIVERSITY PARK -- Joe Paterno is still the head coach of the Penn State football program, but in light of a shocking scandal that rivals any in the history of college sports, there are growing indications his legendary career could come to an end very soon.
How soon is the big question -- whether he will be allowed to coach any more games or if he will be permitted to finish the season and then step down after 46 years at the helm of the Nittany Lions.
The Penn State Board of Trustees met deep into the night Tuesday at Old Main on campus to discuss the Jerry Sandusky sex scandal that has rocked Penn State and drawn outrage across the nation.
University President Graham Spanier was believed to be present for the meeting while other trustees joined in via teleconference. Spanier, also embattled in the controversy, was never seen exiting the building and was not available for comment.
The Board of Trustees released a statement shortly before 11 p.m. that said it is "outraged by the horrifying details contained in the Grand Jury Report" concerning Sandusky.
The Board plans to meet again this evening, then at its scheduled meeting on Friday, it intends to appoint a special committee to investigate the incidents that led to the scandal.
"This Special Committee will be commissioned to determine what failures occurred, who is responsible and what measures are necessary to insure that this never happens at our University again and that those responsible are held fully accountable," the university release stated.
Tuesday's chaotic, ever-changing events began when Paterno's regularly scheduled 12:30 p.m. press conference was canceled about 45 minutes beforehand. That decision was made by Spanier.
Shortly thereafter, a story on the New York Times' website cited two anonymous sources who said Paterno's coaching career would end "perhaps within days or weeks."
Paterno's son Scott quickly refuted that story as he tweeted, "NYT report premature. No discussions about retirement with JVP."
Joe Paterno, 84, clearly wanted to discuss the situation on some level, even if Spanier and other PSU officials did not want him talking for legal reasons, which was made clear in a university statement.
Scott Paterno tried to put the wheels in motion for his father to hold a press conference off campus. The media converged on the Paterno house near Beaver Stadium, and he made this brief statement:
"I know you guys have a lot of questions, and I was hoping to be able to answer some of them today. But we'll try to do it as soon as we can."
Scott Paterno then made it clear his father was still the head coach of the football program.
"The status quo holds," Scott Paterno said. "It's the same as it's always been. He's the coach at Penn State. When there's more to add, I will."
Paterno coached his team at practice, then returned to his home to find a number of students on hand to show their support. An emotional Paterno then spoke to the crowd.
"I've lived for this place," he said. "I've lived for people like you guys and girls. It's hard for me to say how much this means.
"As you know, the kids that were the victims, I think we ought to say a prayer for them," he added.
No other Penn State officials spoke on Tuesday, but the rest of the nation did.
Every major TV and radio news network in the country devoted time to the lurid scandal, with broadcasters and fans alike expressing outrage over Penn State's handling of the 2002 incident involving Sandusky allegedly raping a 10-year-old boy in a shower.
Mike McQueary, now the team's receivers coach who was a graduate assistant at the time, told the grand jury he witnessed that event. McQueary has come under intense scrutiny for failing to help the boy in that situation, the same criticism that has fallen on Paterno, Spanier, athletic director Tim Curley and senior school official Gary Schultz.
There was outrage from many and also shock from those who have known Paterno for decades. Former Penn State player and ESPN commentator Matt Millen broke down in tears discussing the situation on TV, trying to defend Paterno's character but also adding, "It makes you sick that this could happen."
Nothing that's happened to Paterno during his 60-year Penn State career has brought him this close to the brink of losing his job, but the overwhelming national consensus expressed so far is that it seems impossible for him to survive this scandal and return to coach the team next season.
Not everyone, however, is in the Joe-must-go camp.
"I stand behind Joe, and I'm 100 percent Team Paterno," said Macy Golder, a Penn State junior from Bucks County.
"I honestly think that Joe Paterno will still be here [next year]. He stands behind that he reported what needs to be reported, and he did what he needed to do."
Mirror Staff Writer Cory Giger can be reached at 949-7031 and @CoryGiger on Twitter.