Former Penn State head coach Joe Paterno has died of complications from lung cancer. He was 85.
Paterno had been associated with Penn State’s football program for more than sixty years, first as an assistant coach before taking over as head coach in 1966. Paterno led Penn State to over 400 victories, two national championships and had the distinction of being the only head coach to have his team appear in the Rose Bowl, Orange Bowl, Fiesta Bowl and the Sugar Bowl.
However, Paterno will now likely be best remembered for his part in the sex abuse scandal involving his long time assistant coach Jerry Sandusky. After Sandusky was charged, Penn State fired Paterno in November after it became known that he was informed of Sandusky’s conduct and did not contact local authorities.
Days after his firing, Paterno’s son stated his father had been diagnosed with a treatable form of lung cancer. But given the fact that Paterno would never step foot on a football field and the guilt he undoubtedly felt for not telling the authorities what he knew about Sandusky and the ostracism he and his family faced, he probably lost the will to live.
Earlier this month, Paterno was replaced as Penn State head coach by New England Patriots offensive co-ordinator Bill O’Brien.