UNIVERSITY PARK (AP) - Penn State will conduct a wide-open search for a new football coach and focus on candidates with characteristics including honesty and integrity, the school's new president said.
The Nittany Lions need a new leader after Hall of Famer Joe Paterno was fired in his 46th season after child sex abuse charges were filed against former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky.
"As we go out to search for a head football coach, one of the first and foremost criteria is how that person would fit into the value system of Penn State, which clearly has to be honesty, integrity and commitment to excellence in academics," president Rod Erickson said Thursday in an interview with The Associated Press.
Erickson had said Wednesday night after a campus town hall forum that he hoped to have a new coach in place by the time No. 23 Penn State (9-3) plays its bowl game. The postseason destination should be announced this weekend.
Erickson cited the school's success in graduating athletes, an achievement championed by Paterno, who has a library named after him on campus.
But the scandal also tarnished the reputation of a football program that once proudly boasted the slogan "Success with Honor."
Sandusky, who drew up the "Linebacker U." defensive schemes for Paterno, was charged Nov. 5 with sexually abusing eight boys over a 15-year span. The ex-assistant coach has acknowledged that he showered with boys but denied molesting them.
Paterno, the Division I leader with 409 career victories, announced his retirement effective the end of the season on the morning of Nov. 9 amid mounting criticism that school officials should have done more to respond to allegations of alleged abuse.
Despite the announcement, school trustees fired Paterno about 12 hours later.
Paterno is not a target of the investigation.
Longtime assistant Tom Bradley, who is 1-2 since taking over on an interim basis, has expressed interest in keeping the job full time. Some critics have said the next coach should have no previous ties to Penn State given the scandal.
Erickson maintained the search was "wide open" when asked if he would rule out anyone with a Penn State connection, but declined comment on any specific candidate. Acting athletic director David Joyner is heading a six-person search committee for a replacement.