(CBS News) Penn State president Rodney Erickson says Mike McQueary, an assistant coach now on administrative leave who was a graduate assistant when he allegedly witnessed sex abuse at the school in 2002, wasn't fired last week because "legal issues" are in play.

McQueary allegedly saw retired Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky sexually assaulting a child in the shower in a school locker room.

Sandusky is accused of assaulting eight boys over 15 years, and denies the charges.

When asked why Joe Paterno, the iconic Penn State head football coach was fired and not McQueary, Erickson said McQueary's situation was "different." He said, "The board, last Wednesday night, felt that they had to take decisive action, and they did."

"Early Show" co-anchor Jeff Glor asked, "Why was it a different situation, though, if both had information that potentially could have stopped this earlier? Why was one put on administrative leave and one just removed from the position?"

"All I can say at this point is that there are legal issues that are involved," Erickson said.

Glor noted there are three investigations being conducted.Erickson said he hopes to see them completed as soon as possible, so the school can "take whatever corrective actions may be recommended as a result of those investigations."

As for the school, Erickson said "there's ... been the start of a healing process."

When asked if the focus has been too much about the football program and Paterno -- and not on the victims -- Erickson said, "I would certainly hope that the bulk of the focus is on the victims, because there's been so much sadness here at the university over the course of the last week, so much emotion that has been directed toward the victims. Our hearts go out to them."

Just after the announcement that Paterno had been fired amid the scandal, disturbances broke out in State College, Pa., where the school is located.

However, Erickson said students have shown sensitivity toward the victims.

He said, "The fact that our students organized a candlelight vigil to support the victims of child sexual abuse, where 10,000, mostly students, showed up, I think was an excellent example of the real character of Penn State and Penn State students. I think the game that was played on Saturday (Penn State Losta, 17-14 to Nebraska in Penn State's last home game of the season) with the student athletes at the center of the field, kneeling in prayer and reflection and certainly support for the victims of sexual abuse, spoke wonders about the character of all of our students, our fans, and the entire group of 108,000 that were there that day."

Add comment

Security code