COLUMBUS, Ohio – On the first weekend that he was not a part of the Penn State football program in more than 60 years, Joe Paterno was diagnosed with cancer.
The former Nittany Lions coach is suffering from a treatable form of lung cancer, his son Scott said Friday.
In a brief statement provided to the Associated Press, Scott Paterno said his father was expected to recover.
“Last weekend my father was diagnosed with a treatable form of lung cancer during a follow-up visit for a bronchial illness,” Scott Paterno said. “He is currently undergoing treatment and his doctors are optimistic that he will make a full recovery.
“As everyone can appreciate, this is a deeply personal matter for my parents, and we simply ask that his privacy be respected as he proceeds with treatment."
Paterno, 84, was fired by Penn State on Nov. 9 in the wake of a sexual abuse scandal centered on his former top assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky. Sandusky was arraigned Nov. 5 on 40 counts of sexual abuse of eight young boys over a 15-year period. On the same day, two former top officials at the university – Tim Curley and Gary Schultz – were charged with lying to the grand jury during the Sandusky investigation as well as failure to report child abuse. Though Paterno does not face criminal charges and has been described as a cooperating witness by the state attorney general, he came under intense public scrutiny following the indictments as to how much he knew about the situation. State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan questioned Paterno on moral grounds. “I think you have the moral responsibility,” Noonan said. “Whether you’re a football coach or a university president or the guy sweeping the building, I think you have a moral responsibility to call us.” Penn State abruptly cancelled a scheduled news conference for Paterno on Nov. 8, three days after charges were filed, ratcheting up a frenzy around State College. He appeared to be fine that night as mobs of students and fans flocked to his house for an impromptu rally for the embattled coach, eventually coaxing Paterno to come out onto the lawn. “I’m so happy to see you,” Paterno said in his last public comments before being fired. “I’ve lived for this place and I’ve lived for people like you guys and girls," Paterno said, engulfed on all sides by the mob. "And I’m so happy to see how strongly you feel about us and your school.”
On the morning of Nov. 9, Paterno released a statement saying that he would retire at the end of the 2011 season, saying that he wished he had done more to bring allegations against Sandusky to light.
Penn State’s board of trustees fired Paterno and university President Graham Spanier some 10 hours later.
Long-time defensive coordinator Tom Bradley was appointed interim head coach and will lead the Lions against Ohio State today.
Bradley said he had not been to visit Paterno in person since the switch, but that he had talked to him twice in the past week and that the former coach was doing fine.
“He’s as well as can be expected,” Paterno’s son Jay, who remains on staff as quarterbacks coach, said last weekend. “I think he’s going to be fine.”
Proposed laws in wake of sex abuse scandal, Editorial, Page 13A
Civil lawsuits are inevitable, Page 14A
Penn State takes on Ohio State, Page 1B