Joe Paterno, whose storied career as head coach of the Penn State Nittany Lions ended in November over allegations that he failed to respond to claims of sexual abuse involving his assistant, has died. He died on Sunday at the age of 85 as a result of lung cancer. “It is with great sadness that we announce that Joe Paterno passed away earlier today,” the family statement read. “His loss leaves a void in our lives that will never be filled.”
Throughout the day Sunday, condolences poured in from around the country, including sympathies from Penn State University President Rodney Erickson and former U.S. President George H.W. Bush.
Jerry Sandusky, the assistant coach at the center of the Penn State abuse scandal, also sent his regards as noted in a CNN report, saying: “This is a sad day! Our family, Dottie and I would like to convey our deepest sympathy to Sue and her family. Nobody did more for the academic reputation of Penn State than Joe Paterno. He maintained a high standard in a very difficult profession. Joe preached toughness, hard work and clean competition. Most importantly, he had the courage to practice what he preached. Nobody will be able to take away the memories we all shared of a great man, his family, and all the wonderful people who were a part of his life.”
Paterno lead his team to victory more times than any other major college football coach. Former players of Paterno’s who went on to professional success in the NFL include Franco Harris, Matt Bahr, Ki-Jana Carter, and LaVar Arrington.