View Photo Gallery: His program rocked by a child sex abuse scandal involving former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky, the winningest coach in Division I college football history plans to retire at the end of the season.

Updated at 1:20 p.m. / Filed at 10 a.m.

Saying “I am absolutely devastated by the developments” in the child sexual-abuse scandal rocking Penn State, Coach Joe Paterno will retire at the end of the football season.

Paterno will step down whenever his 46th season ends, possibly after a bowl game in January, unless the school’s Board of Trustees decides differently. He said in a statement:

“I am absolutely devastated by the developments in this case. I grieve for the children and their families, and I pray for their comfort and relief.

“I have come to work every day for the last 61 years with one clear goal in mind: To serve the best interests of this university and the young men who have been entrusted to my care. I have the same goal today.
“That's why I have decided to announce my retirement effective at the end of this season. At this moment the Board of Trustees should not spend a single minute discussing my status. They have far more important matters to address. I want to make this as easy for them as I possibly can. This is a tragedy. It is one of the great sorrows of my life. With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more.

“My goals now are to keep my commitments to my players and staff and finish the season with dignity and determination. And then I will spend the rest of my life doing everything I can to help this University.”

Of course, the Board, which plans to meet Friday and intends to appoint an investigative committee to look into the Jerry Sandusky sex scandal, could opt to terminate Paterno’s contract immediately. It has vowed to take “swift, decisive action.”

A source close to Joe Paterno told Sara Ganim of the Harrisburg Patriot-News that it was Paterno’s decision to retire and he's still had no contact with the Board.

Paterno, who is the all-time wins leader in major-college football with 409, informed players of his decision in a team meeting at 11 a.m., according to senior safety Drew Astorino.

“He just told us that he put in a letter of resignation and that he thinks that that would be best for Penn State, best for his family, best for anyone else,” Astorino said. “He doesn't want to put Penn State or anyone else through a war.”

He addressed players briefly in the Mildred and Louis Lasch Football building, telling them he was leaving and then breaking down in tears. Players gave him a standing ovation as he stepped away from the podium.

The Nittany Lions (8-1, 5-0 Big Ten) have three regular-season games remaining plus, potentially, the Big Ten title game and a bowl game. Penn State plays Nebraska in State College, Pa., on Saturday in its last home game of the season.

Scott Paterno tweeted that the family has hired Dan McGinn of TMG in Arlington, Va., to handle media relations. The firm’s website says it offers “strategic counsel/issue management, litigation communications support, media services, executive coaching, creative services, persuaders, social media and deep listening.”

More coverage of the Penn State scandal from The Washington Post:

Sally Jenkins: Blame for the scandal does not lie with Joe Paterno

John Feinstein: Scandal threatens one of sports’ greatest legacies

Tracee Hamilton: Joe Paterno ignored his moral responsibility

Early Lead: Penn State students rally to support Joe Paterno

Hard Hits: Jerry Sandusky scandal shocks former player LaVar Arrington

Mike Wise: Penn State is close to beyond redemption

Early Lead: Scandal may affect incoming football recruits

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