Former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno has died, his family confirmed Sunday morning. Paterno, who won more games than any other Division I football coach, was 85.
Paterno was widely admired for stressing sportsmanship and academics as well as success on the field. But the stellar reputation he spent 46 years building was sullied by allegations that his former assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky, had molested boys over several years.
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Paterno was fired after it emerged that he had told his superiors, but not police, when he learned of allegations in 2002 that Sandusky had raped a boy. Sandusky has pleaded not guilty to sexual abuse charges.
Days after his firing, the coach's family announced that he had lung cancer. In an interview earlier this month with The Washington Post, he expressed regret that he had not done more about Sandusky. He was seated in a wheelchair for the interview, and seemed to struggle throughout it to speak above a whisper.
Paterno's health had been rapidly declining. On Saturday, CBS retracted a report of his death after his family denied it.
"He died as he lived," his family wrote in a statement. "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."
A statement on Penn State's website said, "We grieve for the loss of Joe Paterno, a great man who made us a greater university. His dedication to ensuring his players were successful both on the field and in life is legendary and his commitment to education is unmatched in college football. His life, work and generosity will be remembered always.
"The University plans to honor him for his many contributions and to remember his remarkable life and legacy. We are all deeply saddened."