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Joe Paterno Dies; 'He Fought Hard Until the End,' Says Family
Joe Paterno, the legendary Penn State football coach who won more Division I NCAA football games than any other coach, died on Sunday morning, his family announced. He was 85.
"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," the Paternos said in a statement.
"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," said the statement.
Paterno is survived by wife Sue Paterno, children Diana, Joseph Jr. "Jay", Mary Kay, David and Scott, and 17 grandchildren – and, his family said, "hundreds of young men whose lives he changed in more ways than can begin to be counted."
Paterno, a.k.a Joe Pa and known for his "success with honor" motto, thick glasses, rolled-up pants and black cleats, had been diagnosed with lung cancer, it was announced on Nov. 18. On Saturday, as friends and family were being summoned to State College Hospital, a family spokesman said the coach, 85, had taken a turn for the worse and asked for privacy for his family.
A Brooklyn native and Brown University graduate, Paterno began coaching the Nittany Lions in 1966 and his tenure stretched to October, 2011, when he won his 409th game.
In his 46 years as head coach, Paterno held the all-time Division I record for football coaching wins with a 409-136-3 record, and he won two national championships while going undefeated in five different seasons.
After a highly celebrated career and iconic status on the Penn State campus, Paterno's career as head coach ended as a result of a scandal involving former assistant Jerry Sandusky, who allegedly sexually assaulted young boys, including a 10-year-old in the locker-room shower.
Although Paterno was not accused of any wrongdoing in the scandal, he was criticized for failing to report what he heard to police. In 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," he told The Washington Post on Jan. 14. "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."
Success with Honor
Though the scandal landed Paterno in the headlines in his final days, the coach enjoyed decades of success and reverence on the campus he and his wife helped build. It was their donations that funded the school's Paterno Library).
"Success without honor is an unseasoned dish; it will satisfy your hunger, but it won't taste good," Paterno said.
Even in the aftermath of the scandal, the downtown College Avenue was peppered with Joe Paterno merchandise, and even bar bathrooms were scrawled with support for the longtime coach.
"It feels like a member of the family has died," Leslie Vink, a 2003 graduate and former Penn State gymnast tells PEOPLE. She was on campus Saturday to watch the women's gymnastics team compete when she heard the news of Paterno's passing.
"He meant so much to the school and it's students," said Vink. "He is survived by not only by the Paternos, but his entire Penn State family."
He really was a great man Spooky....He brought soooo much to the Penn State athletic department. It never was about him, it was always about the other guy...unless of course it was the team they were playing week.
If it wasn't for sports, I'd have nothing look forward to
It is very hard to see past the scandal that happened at Penn St that hurt so many when looking back at the life and accomplishments of Joe Paterno. Should he have acted and done more to prevent or stop it sure but i am not here to judge him on his moral responsibility in that matter as now he will be judged by his god whomever that may be. I know many will say because of what he did or didn't do that they have no compassion or feel sorry for him etc and i won't sit here and say if its right or wrong. But should a mistake made by a man (sure i know this was a big mistake) totally outweigh any good he has done and tarnish his whole life and legacy ? Esp when he himself did not commit the sickening crime , and i know your gonna say well he didn't stop it so he is just as guilty, and well you may be right.
But no matter what stance you take and how you feel about the mistake that Joe Pa made i think one must also consider all the good that he accomplished over his lifetime. Joe Pa gave his heart and soul to the game of college football , his players , and the University he loved and it is people with his drive and commitment which make the game so great. Joe prided himself on running a clean football program when it came to ncaa violations and truly seemed to coach for the love of the game and not for the financial benefits it provided which is so often lost in this day and age. He lived for Penn St and he lived for the game of football and he gave back to both much more then he ever took out. His lifelong legacy will have its place in college football history as it rightfully should !
I couldn't agree more with all your comments. It's sad to say but often in life people remember the latest scandal or mis-step before they remember the good in others. To me This was a good man who may of used poor judgment at times but haven't we all. He always seemed a quiet well spoken coach who loved the game and deeply cared about his players and that is what I will remember most.
My heart goes out to his family, his friend and Penn St.
One proud memory I had of Joe Pa was the Penn State team carrying him on their shoulders back in 1982 when the Nittanies went 11-1 and won the National Championship. Others included his 409th career victory to pass Eddie Robinson all-time in Division 1 history. His philantrophy, views on instant replay based on the Clockgate controversy, and legacy he leaves behind that became one of the more popular icons that defined college football. He would coach games from the press box, on the sidelines even on crutches, and would eat, sleep and breathe Penn State college football.
Unfortunately the events over the last year surrounding the Jerry Sandusky scandal scarred the Penn State program. Joe Paterno went through a lot in such a short time over the final 3 months of his life. While nobody would condone how he handled the situation that surrounded the Penn State program once it broke, I hope society will remember him for his legacy and all he did for the sport. May he rest in peace.
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