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Penn State leaders to meet with JoePa in coming months

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Penn State's president and athletic
director plan to meet with Joe Paterno in the next few months, in
part to talk about the 81-year-old coach's future.

Paterno typically meets with school administrators each
offseason to review the previous year and look ahead to the next
season.

This year's meeting is attracting extra attention because
Paterno's contract expires after the 2008 season. The 42-year
coaching veteran has said recently he could coach at least a couple
more years, and perhaps has many as five.

Penn State president Graham Spanier, responding to a question
posed Friday at a meeting of university trustees, said he was
certain Paterno would return for his 43rd season this fall.

"He does have a year remaining on his contract, and we expect
him to be coaching this fall," Spanier told reporters during a
break in the meeting.

When asked if the topic of Paterno coaching beyond next year had
come up yet, Spanier only said that he hadn't had a chance to speak
to the coach yet.

Athletic director Tim Curley said they hope to sit down after
the recruiting period ends in early February. Spring practice
begins in late March.

"I just don't want to say anything until I've had the
opportunity to talk to him about the subject," Curley said.
"We've talked about some other things, but haven't had a chance to
zero in on that."

Paterno's 372 career wins are one behind Florida State's Bobby
Bowden for most among major college coaches.

Florida State last month signed Bowden, 78, to one more year
with an option for another, while also designating offensive
coordinator Jimbo Fisher as "head coach-in-waiting."

Spanier declined comment when asked if he could envision such a
scenario at Penn State. Curley spoke broadly when asked about the
need for a succession plan.

"Good planning requires we do that in all sports, in the back
of your mind, you have a backup plan in place," he said. "It
wouldn't be something that I'd want to state publicly what I'd be
thinking, but hopefully a good manager has that in their hip
pocket."

Trustee David Jones asked Curley during the meeting about the
recent string of legal troubles encountered by a handful of
players.

"I am very confident we have our arms around it and as we
proceed that they don't happen in the future," he said. "And if
they do, they happen in a minimal situation."

Penn State finished 9-4 in 2007, and Curley said overall he
thought the program was in "great shape and moving forward."