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Spokesman: Paterno in serious condition

by GENARO C. ARMAS, AP Sports Writer on January 21, 2012 8:20 PM

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

recent days.

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

football building.

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.

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