Joe Paterno, the 85-year-old former Penn State coach who was battling lung cancer, died on Sunday, after suffering further health complications the day prior, the family told the media.
Paterno, who was battling lung cancer, was hospitalized since Jan. 13 after experiencing complications with his treatment. (Medical Center's release on the cause of death can be read in full below.)
Joe Paterno's family said that his loss has left a void in the family that will never be filled.
He died as he lived. He fought hard until the end, stayed positive, thought only of others and constantly reminded everyone of how blessed his life had been, the Paterno family said in a statement to The Associated Press. His ambitions were far reaching, but he never believed he had to leave this Happy Valley to achieve them. He was a man devoted to his family, his university, his players and his community.
Paterno is survived by his wife Sue and five children: Diana, Jay, Mary Kay, David and Scott. The legendary coach also had 17 grandchildren, according to a report in The Daily Collegian, Penn State's student newspaper.
My family wants to express our heartfelt thanks to the hospital staff and doctors, Scott Paterno tweeted on Sunday. They were amazing and caring - Thanks isn't enough.
We would also like to thank all of the tens of thousands of people who have been praying - your kindness continues to sustain us.
Finally, to Penn Staters, past and present, know that Dad loves you all and has always loved being part of your family.
The public first learned of Paterno's lung cancer in mid-November when his son Scott issued a statement regarding his father's health condition. It was the same month Paterno was fired from Penn State as head coach because of the child sex abuse scandal facing former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky. Sandusky is now out on bail. Two university officials also lost their jobs after being charged with perjury following a grand jury investigation into the allegations against Sandusky.
Paterno's lung cancer was diagnosed during a follow-up visit for a bronchial illness, according to The AP. A few weeks later the 85 year old broke his pelvis after a fall. He didn't need surgery. Paterno was admitted to Mount Nittany Medical Center on Jan. 13, for the complications he has had with the treatment of his lung cancer.
The Penn State Board of Trustees fired Paterno as head coach on Nov. 9. This was after multiple allegations and child-sex abuse charges were filed against Sandusky. Though Paterno wasn't charged with any crime, serious questions were brought up regarding whether additional follow up could have been done when he was made aware of one of the allegations against Sandusky.
Sandusky, who was expected to succeed Paterno before retiring in 1999, has been charged with sexually assaulting 10 boys over a 15-year period. Graduate Assistant Mike McQueary has testified that he saw Sandusky allegedly sexually assaulting a young boy in a shower at the university and that he told Paterno of the incident. Reports are that Paterno waited one day before making what he was told known to school authorities and police were reportedly never called in the matter.
More than 40 years of legacy
Paterno has spent more than 45 years as Penn State head coach. The man known was affectionately known as JoePa'' won 409 games and brought the Nittany Lions to 37 bowl games and two national championships. The Daily Collegian reported that Paterno's final victory came against Illinois on Oct. 29, leading him to pass Eddie Robinson for the most coaching wins in Division I history.
More than 250 of the players Paterno coached went on to the NFL, The AP reported.
Since news of Paterno's death began spreading on Sunday, Sandusky and Penn State officials have issued statements. Read the statements below:
This is a sad day! Our family, Dottie and I would like to convey our deepest sympathy to Sue and her family. Nobody did more for the academic reputation of Penn State than Joe Paterno. He maintained a high standard in a very difficult profession. Joe preached toughness, hard work and clean competition. Most importantly, he had the courage to practice what he preached. Nobody will be able to take away the memories we all shared of a great man, his family, and all the wonderful people who were a part of his life. - Jerry Sandusky, via e-mail through his lawyer, Joe Amendola, The Daily Collegian reported.
It is with great sadness that I am compelled to deliver this message of condolence and tribute to a great man, husband, father and someone who is more than just a coach, Joe Paterno. First, on behalf of Penn State football, we offer our sincerest condolences to the Paterno family for their loss. We also offer our condolences to the Penn State community and, in particular, to those who wore the Penn State colors, our Nittany Lion football players and alumni. Today they lost a great man, coach, mentor and, in many cases, a father figure, and we extend our deepest sympathies. The Penn State football program is one of college football's iconic programs because it was led by an icon in the coaching profession in Joe Paterno. There are no words to express my respect for him as a man and as a coach. To be following in his footsteps at Penn State is an honor. Our families, our football program, our University and all of college football have suffered a great loss, and we will be eternally grateful for Coach Paterno's immeasurable contributions. - Bill O'Brien, Penn State head football coach.
We grieve for the loss of Joe Paterno, a great man who made us a greater university. His dedication to ensuring his players were successful both on the field and in life is legendary and his commitment to education is unmatched in college football. His life, work and generosity will be remembered always. The University plans to honor him for his many contributions and to remember his remarkable life and legacy. We are all deeply saddened. We are considering appropriate ways to honor the great life and legacy of Joe Paterno. The University's Department of Intercollegiate Athletics is consulting with members of the Penn State community on the nature and timing of the gathering. - Rodney Erickso, Penn State Board of Trustees and University President.
On January 22, 2012 at 9:25 am, Joseph V. Paterno died of metastatic small cell carcinoma of the lung at Mount Nittany Medical Center, State College, Pennsylvania. Joe was surrounded by his family at the time of his passing, and they request privacy during this difficult time. The leadership and staff of Mount Nittany Health System are saddened by the passing of legendary coach Joe Paterno. Coach Paterno was a tireless advocate for the health system, serving as both a donor and a fundraiser for many of The Foundation for Mount Nittany Medical Center's charitable programs, and was a leader in our community for more than sixty years. His contributions, in time, talent and treasure, have been immeasurable, and he will be sorely missed. Our thoughts are with the Paterno family during this difficult time, - Mount Nittany Medical Center.