Former Penn State coach Joe Paterno is in serious condition after experiencing health complications from lung cancer.
“Over the last few days Joe Paterno has experienced further health complications,” family spokesman Dan McGinn said in a brief statement Saturday to The Associated Press. “His doctors have now characterized his status as serious.
“His family will have no comment on the situation and asks that their privacy be respected during this difficult time,” he said.
The 85-year-old Paterno has been in the hospital since Jan. 13 for observation for what his family had called minor complications from cancer treatments.
Paterno was diagnosed with cancer in November, days after getting ousted as head coach in the aftermath of the child sex abuse charges against former assistant Jerry Sandusky.
This was Paterno’s second time in the hospital in a month. He’s also recovering from a broken pelvis that required a week-long stay to make it easier for cancer treatments. Paterno first hurt his pelvis in August when he was accidentally bowled over by a player in pre-season practice.
The injury forced the Hall of Famer to spend most of the season coaching from the press box — until trustees dismissed him Nov. 9, four days after Sandusky was first charged.
Sandusky is out on bail and awaiting trial after denying the allegations. Paterno testified before a state grand jury investigating Sandusky, and authorities have said he is not a target of the probe.
But school trustees voted unanimously to oust him anyway — even though Paterno had announced that morning he would retire by the end of the season — in part because Paterno failed a moral responsibility to report an allegation made in 2002 against Sandusky to authorities outside the university.
Paterno testified he had relayed the allegation told to him by graduate assistant Mike McQueary to a superior, and the information was then passed on to another school administrator who oversaw the campus police department.
Paterno’s lawyer, Wick Sollers, on Thursday called the board’s comments self-serving and unsupported by the facts. Paterno fully reported what he knew to the people responsible for campus investigations, Sollers said.
“He did what he thought was right with the information he had at the time,” Sollers said.