Joe Paterno At Penn State For Nearly 46 Years

March 7, 2012 by staff 

Joe Paterno At Penn State For Nearly 46 Years, Perhaps the most ironic element when looking at the way Joe Paterno lost his job as Penn State’s football coach after 46 seasons is that as a young man, he had his eyes set on law school. Joe Paterno coached Penn State for 46 seasons and won 409 games before being fired in November.

The fallout in 2011 from the child sex-abuse scandal involving Jerry Sandusky, who was an assistant on Paterno’s Penn State staff until 1999, prompted the university’s Board of Trustees to fire Paterno, then 84, with three games left in the regular season.

Paterno, who died Sunday at 85, was criticized for not going to law enforcement in 2002 once he was told by then-graduate assistant Mike McQueary that McQueary had seen Sandusky allegedly sexually abusing a young boy in a shower on campus.

“I didn’t know exactly how to handle it and I was afraid to do something that might jeopardize what the university procedure was,” Paterno told The Washington Post in January 2012 in the only interview he gave after the scandal broke. “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.”

Paterno had been in the hospital since Jan. 13 as he dealt with treatment related to lung cancer. On Saturday, his family released a statement saying major college football’s winningest coach was in serious condition. Word spread that he was near death. On campus in State College, hundreds of students and fans gathered for an impromptu vigil at his statue across from the football field.

The Pennsylvania hospital where Paterno died told the Associated Press that the cause of death was spreading lung cancer. Paterno’s family made the initial announcement in a statement Sunday morning:

“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.”

The statement also said, “His loss leaves a void in our lives that will never be filled.”

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