Local
5:52 pm
Sun January 22, 2012

Paterno Dead Age 85

Penn State gathered at a statue of longtime coach Joe Paterno Sunday after his family announced he died. The mourners left candles, posters, flowers, T-shirts and pom-poms for the man they referred to as "JoePA."

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 said Paterno "has done so much for this university, community, and the state of Pennsylvania."

He said 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.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett is expressing his condolences on the death of Joe Paterno. Corbett said he and his wife were saddened to learn of his passing. Corbett cited Paterno's record of having won more football games than any other major college coach and also his generosity to Penn State "as an institution and to his players." He said Paterno, as both a man and a coach, met adversity "with grace and forbearance. His place in our state's history is secure."

Former Penn State star Lydell Mitchell visited Joe Paterno about a week and a half ago, hoping to get just a moment with his ailing coach. After an emotional hour and a half, Mitchell said goodbye and told Paterno that he would always have the support of his players.

"I said, 'Hey, man, we love you.' We'll fight the fight for him," Mitchell said Sunday. He went on to say Paterno's legacy "will always be intact because we won't let Joe's legacy die."

Penn State's current football coach Bill O'Brien said following Joe Paterno in the job is an honor and all college football has suffered a great loss. He said Penn State is one of the game's iconic programs because "it was led by an icon in the coaching profession." He also offers condolences to Paterno's family on behalf of the team.

Paterno died less than three months after he was ousted amid a child sex abuse scandal involving one of his former assistants.

Former Penn State tight end Mickey Shuler said, "It's just sad because I think he died from other things than lung cancer."

Retired Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky said this is a sad day. In a statement released Sunday, Sandusky said no one did more for the university's academic reputation than Paterno. He said the coach "had the courage to practice what he preached" about toughness, hard work, and clean competition. He also expresses sympathy to Paterno's family.

Sandusky was Paterno's top assistant for years until he retired in 1999.

He said he remembers Paterno as a great man who met high standards in a difficult job.

Sandusky is awaiting trial for what prosecutors say was sexual abuse of 10 children over 15 years. He denies the allegations.

Portions Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.