STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Pleased Valley was ideal for Joe Paterno, a spot where “JoePa” knew greatest, where he not only won more football games than any other main college coach, but won them the right way: with integrity and sportsmanship. A spot exactly where character came first, championships second.
Behind it all, nonetheless, was an ugly secret that ran counter to almost everything the revered coach stood for.
Paterno, a sainted figure at Penn State for nearly half a century but scarred forever by the kid sex abuse scandal that brought his profession to a gorgeous end, died Sunday at the age of 85.
His death came just more than two months right after his son Scott announced on Nov. 18 that his father had been diagnosed with a treatable form of lung cancer. The cancer was located during a adhere to-up pay a visit to for a bronchial illness. A couple of weeks later, Paterno broke his pelvis right after a fall but did not want surgery.
His family members released a statement Sunday morning to announce his death: “His loss leaves a void in our lives that will never ever be filled.”
“He died as he lived,” the statement stated. “He fought hard till the end, stayed positive, believed only of other people and constantly reminded everybody of how blessed his life had been. His ambitions were far reaching, but he in no way believed he had to leave this Pleased Valley to obtain them. He was a man devoted to his loved ones, his university, his players and his community.”
Paterno built a system based on the credo of “Success with Honor,” and he found both. The man recognized as “JoePa” won 409 games and took the Nittany Lions to 37 bowl games and two national championships. A lot more than 250 of the players he coached went on to the NFL.
But in the middle of his 46th season, the legend was shattered. Paterno was engulfed in a kid sex abuse scandal when a former trusted assistant, Jerry Sandusky, was accused of molesting 10 boys more than a 15-year span, sometimes in the football creating.
Paterno at first said he was fooled. But outrage built quickly when the state’s top cop mentioned the coach hadn’t fulfilled a moral obligation to go to the authorities when a graduate assistant, Mike McQueary, told Paterno he saw Sandusky with a young boy in the showers of the football complicated in 2002.
At a preliminary hearing for the school officials, McQueary testified that he had seen Sandusky attacking the child with his hands around the boy’s waist but mentioned he wasn’t 100 percent confident it was intercourse. McQueary described Paterno as shocked and saddened and stated the coach told him he’d “done the correct thing” by reporting the encounter.
Paterno waited a day prior to alerting school officials but by no means went to the police.
When the scandal erupted in November, Paterno stated he would retire following the 2011 season. He also stated he was “absolutely devastated” by the abuse case.
“This is a tragedy,” he said. “It is one particular of the great sorrows of my life. With the advantage of hindsight, I wish I had carried out a lot more.”
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