STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - (AP) - Joe Paterno was a hero at "Happy Valley" and an icon in the state of Pennsylvania until a scandal within his football program led to his dismissal as Penn State head coach two months ago. Paterno died of lung cancer Sunday at age 85, just weeks after he became the all-time winningest coach in major college football.
His death comes just two months after his family announced he had a treatable form of lung cancer, and a little more than a week after he was hospitalized with what his family called minor complications from his cancer treatments.
Retired Florida State coach Bobby Bowden called Paterno an "icon," and added: "History will say he's one of the greatest. Who's coached longer, who's coached better, who's won more games, who's been more successful than Joe?"
Paterno built a reputation for being a no-nonsense coach who graduated his players, all while winning more games than any other coach. The Nittany Lions compiled 409 wins, made 37 bowl game appearances and captured two national championships during their 46 seasons under Paterno. More than 250 of his players went to the NFL, and countless others found success in other vocations as Paterno's program lived under the credo "Success with Honor."
But the program's reputation was rocked in November, when allegations surfaced that former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky had molested 10 boys over a 15-year span, sometimes within the football training facilities. When a graduate student told Paterno in 2002 that he saw Sandusky in the showers with a young boy, Paterno waited a day before alerting school officials but never went to the police.
Penn State dismissed Paterno on Nov. 9, nine days before his son, Scott, announced that his father had lung cancer.