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Jan 22, 2012 11:45 AM by Matt Stafford

Fired Penn State coach Joe Paterno reported dead at 85

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) - Penn State fans are gathering at a statue of longtime coach Joe Paterno after his family announced he died.

Fifty to 75 fans had gathered late Sunday morning and more are streaming in. In front of the statue lies candles, posters, flowers, T-shirts and pom-poms.

Steve Wrath is a 1984 Penn State alum who drove to the statue outside the university's football stadium after hearing of Paterno's death. He says Paterno "has done so much for this university, community and the state of Pennsylvania."

He says the circumstances of the child sex abuse scandal that has rocked the program were unthinkable and he doesn't want to belittle the possible abuse victims but believes that Paterno's legacy will overcome it.

Paterno's family has announced that the coach died Sunday. His family released a statement Sunday morning.

Paterno's son Scott announced Nov. 18 that his father was being treated for lung cancer, which was diagnosed in mid-November during a follow-up visit for a bronchial illness.

The storied career of "JoePa" included 409 wins in 46 seasons and two national championships.

But his reputation for success with honor was shattered last year when a former assistant was charged with molesting 10 boys during a 15-year span, including some in the Penn State athletic complex.

Critics said Paterno should have done more to stop it. He was fired Nov. 9.

In all, Paterno guided five teams to unbeaten, untied seasons.

 

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