STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Former Penn State coach Joe Paterno has a treatable form of lung cancer, according to his son.
Scott Paterno said in a statement provided to The Associated Press by a family representative on Friday that the 84-year-old Joe Paterno is undergoing treatment and that “his doctors are optimistic he will make a full recovery.”
“As everyone can appreciate, this is a deeply personal matter for my parents, and we simply ask that his privacy be respected as he proceeds with treatment,” Scott Paterno said in a brief statement.
Scott Paterno said the diagnosis was made during a follow-up visit last weekend for a bronchial illness.
Earlier Friday, The Citizens Voice, of Wilkes-Barre, Pa., reported that Paterno had been seen Wednesday visiting the Mount Nittany Medical Center and was treated for an undisclosed ailment and released.
Paterno was fired last week in the aftermath of shocking allegations against former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky, who is charged with sexually abusing eight boys over 15 years. Critics said Paterno should have done more to stop the abuse that a state grand jury alleged Sandusky committed – in particular one assault in 2002.
Paterno initially announced his retirement effective the end of the season. But university trustees fired him about 12 hours later, on the evening of Nov. 9.
The lurid scandal has tarnished the reputation of a football program that once prided itself on the slogan “Success with Honor.” The Hall of Famer’s 409 career victories are a Division I record. In all, Paterno guided five teams to unbeaten, untied seasons, and won two national championships.
Sandusky was once expected to succeed Paterno before retiring in 1999.
Two university officials stepped down after they were charged with lying to a grand jury and failing to report the 2002 charge to police, an assault which allegedly took place in a shower in the football building.
The grand jury report said the attack was witnessed by Mike McQueary, a graduate assistant at the time. Now the receivers coach but on administrative leave, McQueary told the grand jury he went to his father first and then to Paterno, who in turn told a university superior but didn’t go to the police.