Two days after ESPN ran a stinging Outside The Lines feature highlighting the recent rash of off-field problems with the Penn State football program, some housecleaning has apparently begun in Happy Valley.
Sources close to the team report to FightOnState.com that during a squad meeting Tuesday, head coach Joe Paterno announced defensive tackles Chris Baker and Phillip Taylor had been dismissed earlier in the day. According to the sources, Paterno said the dismissals were permanent.
Joe said he was fed up with both players, said one source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
A third source said the dismissals were the result of a recent off-field incident, but did not have further details. Local law enforcement officials report that neither player has been charged with a crime in the past 10 days.
Penn State football spokesman Guido D'Elia was in Pittsburgh on business Tuesday and could neither confirm nor deny the dismissals.
Baker, a junior, was involved in a pair of highly publicized fights last year. Earlier this year he pleaded guilty to three misdemeanor offenses in connection to the fights and is currently serving two years of probation.
According to court records, earlier this month Baker was cited by Patton Township police for harboring a dangerous dog. FOS does not believe that had anything to do with his reported dismissal.
Taylor, another junior, was involved in a fight at Penn State's student union building last October. He pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges last spring and was expelled from the university for the two summer semesters.
He spent the summer living in State College and working out on his own.
Baker started seven games in 2007, making 37 tackles and 4.5 sacks. He was suspended for the Alamo Bowl and all of spring practice.
Taylor started five games in 2007, making 20 tackles and three sacks. He was suspended for all of spring practice.
It should be noted that Paterno has previously used the occasion of private squad meetings to tell the team that certain players had been jettisoned for good, only to allow the players in question to return after further consideration.
We will have more on this story as information becomes available.
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See our followup report here, including details of the “incident.”