Spokesman: Paterno in serious condition
Joe Paterno's family says
doctors have "characterized his status as
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) — Joe Paterno's
doctors say the former Penn State coach's condition has become
“serious” after he experienced complications from lung cancer in
The winningest major college football
coach of all time, Paterno was diagnosed shortly after Penn State's
Board of Trustees ousted him Nov. 9 in the aftermath of the child
sex abuse charges against former assistant Jerry Sandusky.
Paterno's been getting treatment since, and his health problems
were worsened when he broke his pelvis — an injury that first
cropped up when he was accidentally hit in preseason practice last
“Over the last few days Joe Paterno has
experienced further health complications,” family spokesman Dan
McGinn said in a brief statement Saturday to The Associated Press.
"His doctors have now characterized his status as
“His family will have no comment on the
situation and asks that their privacy be respected during this
difficult time,” he said.
The 85-year-old Paterno has been in the
hospital since Jan. 13 for observation for what his family had
called minor complications from his cancer treatments. Not long
before that, he conducted his only interview since losing his job,
with The Washington Post. Paterno was described as frail then and
wearing a wig. The second half of the two-day interview was
conducted by his bedside.
The final days of Paterno's Penn State
career were easily the toughest in his 61 years with the university
and 46 seasons as head football coach.
Sandusky, a longtime defensive
coordinator who was on Paterno's staff in two national title
seasons, was arrested Nov. 5 and ultimately charged with sexually
abusing a total of 10 boys over 15 years. His arrest sparked
outrage not just locally but across the nation and there were
widespread calls for Paterno to quit.
Paterno announced late on Nov. 9 that he
would retire at the end of the season but just hours later he
received a call from board vice chairman John Surma, telling him he
had been terminated as coach. By that point, a crowd of students
and media were outside the Paterno home. When news spread that
Paterno had been dumped, there was rioting in State
Police on Saturday night had barricaded
off the block where Paterno lives, and a police car was stationed
about 50 yards from his home. A light was on in the living room but
there was no activity inside. No one was outside, other than
reporters and photographers stationed there.
Trustees said this week they pushed
Paterno out in part because he failed a moral responsibility to
report an allegation made in 2002 against Sandusky to authorities
outside the university. They also felt he had challenged their
authority and that, as a practical matter, with all the media in
town and attention to the Sandusky case, he could no longer run the
Paterno testified before the grand jury
investigating Sandusky that he had relayed to his bosses an
accusation that came from graduate assistant Mike McQueary, who
said he saw Sandusky abusing a boy in the showers of the Penn State
Paterno told the Post that he didn't
know how to handle the charge, but a day after McQueary visited
him, Paterno spoke to the athletic director and the administrator
with oversight over the campus police.
Wick Sollers, Paterno's lawyer, called
the board's comments this week self-serving and unsupported by the
facts. Paterno fully reported what he knew to the people
responsible for campus investigations, Sollers said.
“He did what he thought was right with
the information he had at the time,” Sollers said.
Sandusky says he is innocent and is out
on bail, awaiting trial.