PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Bill Cosby resigned Monday as a trustee of Temple University following a string of allegations that accused him of drugging and sexually assaulting women over many years.
The 77-year-old entertainer has been a high-profile cheerleader for his beloved alma mater in Philadelphia and a board member since 1982.
“I have always been proud of my association with Temple University. I have always wanted to do what would be in the best interests of the university and its students. As a result, I have tendered my resignation from the Temple University Board of Trustees,” Cosby said in a statement released by the university.
Board chairman Patrick O’Connor, who accepted Cosby’s resignation, told The Associated Press that Cosby does not want to be a distraction to the board.
“The Board of Trustees accepts Dr. Cosby’s resignation from the board and thanks him for his service to the university,” the university said in its release.
O’Connor had defended Cosby in a 2005 civil suit filed by a former Temple basketball employee who accused Cosby of molesting her at his suburban Philadelphia mansion a year earlier. Cosby and the woman later settled the lawsuit for undisclosed terms.
More than a dozen other women have come forward since the lawsuit was filed to make similar claims, including several who have gone public this month.
Cosby has strongly denied wrongdoing and has never been criminally charged.
“He didn’t comment on the allegations (Monday),” O’Connor said. “They were from (as long as) 50 years ago.”
Cosby, who was born and raised in Philadelphia, is one of Temple’s most famous alumni and has been a frequent commencement speaker.
Several other colleges have also severed their ties with him amid this month as more women went public to say he had molested them.
The Berklee College of Music will no longer award a scholarship in Cosby’s name, and the University of Massachusetts-Amherst asked him to step down as honorary co-chairman of their $300 million fundraising campaign. Cosby agreed to the request.
At Temple, an online petition urging the university to cut ties with Cosby had garnered more than 1,000 signatures by Monday afternoon.
Temple trustee Anthony McIntyre said the developments presented a “no-win situation” for everyone involved.
“It’s a tragedy for all and I’m sure that he did what he felt was best for the school,” McIntyre said.
Temple serves about 38,000 undergraduate and graduate students.
Associated Press writer Sean Carlin contributed to this report.