Politico is reporting that Republican Senator Pat Toomey and Democratic Senator Bob Casey, both of which recommended the coach for the Presidential Medal of Freedom, have since rescinded their recommendations. The withdrawal comes less than a day after the Penn State board of trustees voted to remove the long-time coach as well as school president Graham Spanier.
According to USA Today, the senators expressed their concern in a joint statement, hoping to move the investigation forward:
We hope the proper authorities move forward with their investigation without delay. Penn State is an important institution in our commonwealth. We should turn our attention to the victims of these atrocious crimes and ensure they get the help they need. Our hearts and prayers go out to them and their families.
The initial call for Paterno to receive the honor came with some high recommendations. "Coach Paterno over the years has shown tremendous character and loyalty," the senators wrote when making the recommendation, according to the L.A. Times. "Throughout his time at Penn State, he has remained committed to reaching goals without sacrificing the ideals that are central to higher education."
The serious allegations against former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky that have been made and resulting criminal charges have obviously changed the lawmakers' minds. Paterno, who has been found clear of legal responsibility, was apparently aware of child sex allegations against Sandusky, and failed to report them to the authorities.
However, one former lawmaker wasn't so quick to dismiss Paterno. According to Politico, Former Pennsylvania Democrat Representative Joe Sestak tweeted, "Before you throw somebody away, due process should be done - at least an investigation. Both have failed to do that."