FOX NEWS--The Penn State Board of Trustees have relieved football coach Joe Paterno of his duties at a late night press conference.
Riot police have been deployed in State College.
The crowd audibly gasped when Paterno's firing was announced. The board would not comment on Paterno's reaction but he was told earlier Wednesday evening.
President Graham Spanier is also out and Rodney Erickson will be interim president,
Tom Bradley takes over as coach.
Paterno, 84, has announced earlier on Wednesday that he would retire at the end of the current football season. Paterno has been the head coach at Penn State since 1966.
But news came hours later the Education Department would investigate Penn State for violating a crime-reporting act, with the loss of federal funding a possible punishment.
The federal investigation could focus on school employees like Paterno, Spanier, Gary Schultz and Tim Curley, who all knew about an alleged sexual assault or incident involving a 10-year-old boy and former coach Jerry Sandusky witnessed by a graduate assistant in 2002.
That incident wasn’t reported to University police or federal investigators in 2002.
But Paterno’s fate hung in the balance, as trustees debated his future.
One issue is that Penn State and Paterno could face a slew of civil lawsuits in the coming months, and there could be concerns about how the school presents Paterno’s appearance at his final home game on Saturday.
CNBC put a price tag of $100 million on the potential civil suit liability.
"I have decided to announce my retirement effective at the end of this season," Paterno said in a statement early Wednesday.
"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."
He is under fire for his role in a wide-ranging scandal involving former defensive coach Sandusky and how he reported the shower stall incident to Curley and Schultz.