Spokesman Says Joe Paterno Death Reports Are False

Reports that Joe Paterno has died at age 85 are false, says a family spokesperson.

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"Absolutely not true." That's the statement of Dan McGinn, spokesman for the Paterno family, on a circulating report that Joe Paterno has died at age 85 from complications in his ongoing treatment for lung cancer. There's no denying that the former Penn State coach's health has been rapidly failing in recent weeks. But the report, picked up by CBS News and The Huffington Post from a tweet (now removed) issued by Onward State, a Penn State news outlet, appears to be erroneous.

Having coached the Nittany Lions to a record-breaking 409 wins over 46 seasons, Paterno's sterling legacy went down in flames last year, after allegations surfaced that longtime defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky had been serial raping boys right under Paterno's nose. Sandusky currently faces over 50 counts of sexual abuse against children.

Growing outrage over Paterno's failure to intervene led the Penn State board of trustees to vote him out of his coaching position last November, a measure met by the loud protests of the Penn State student body. His lung cancer diagnosis was revealed shortly after his dismissal.
In an interview with The Washington Post published just last week, Paterno, a literally broken man, expressed genuine shock at the nightmarish turn his life had taken:
“I’m not 31 years old trying to prove something to anybody,” he said. “I know where I am.” This is where he is: wracked by radiation and chemotherapy, in a wheelchair with a broken pelvis, and “shocked and saddened” as he struggles to explain a breakdown of devastating proportions.
But as dire as that scenario sounds, Paterno is still very much alive, according to his family.
UPDATE: Paterno has died.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.