Former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno - the all-time Division I leader in wins who resigned amid the university's child molestation scandal just a few months ago - has passed away due to complications from lung cancer. He was 85.
On Saturday, as friends and family were being summoned to State College, Pa., hospital, a family spokesman said the coach had taken a turn for the worse.
Then, on Sunday morning around 10 a.m. EST, the family confirmed the legendary coach's passing via the following statement:
It is with great sadness that we announce that Joe Paterno passed away earlier today. His loss leaves a void in our lives 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.
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.
Known for his "success with honor" motto, thick glasses, rolled-up pants and black cleats, Paterno left an indelible mark on Penn State and college football in general.
He is survived by his wife Sue, five children and 17 grandchildren.
A Brooklyn native and Brown University graduate, Paterno began coaching the Nittany Lions in 1966 and his tenure stretched to October of this year.
In his 46 years as head coach, Paterno holds the all-time Division I record for football coaching wins with a 409-136-3 record and two national titles.
After a highly celebrated career and iconic status, Paterno's career as coach ended as a result of a scandal involving former assistant Jerry Sandusky.Sandusky allegedly sexually assaulted young boys, including a 10-year-old. Paterno was fired over his handling (or lack of handling) of the scandal.
Announcing his retirement, he said, “This is a tragedy. It is one of the great sorrows of my life. With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more."
"I'm sick about it. I didn’t know exactly how to handle it, and I was afraid to do something that might jeopardize what the university procedure was."
"So I backed away and turned it over to some other people, people I thought would have a little more expertise than I did. It didn’t work out that way."
In November, he was diagnosed with lung cancer and his health rapidly deteriorated.
Though the scandal sullied Paterno's image in his final days, the coach enjoyed decades of success and reverence on the campus he and his wife helped build.
That's not likely to change anytime soon. R.I.P.