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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp attends the Class of 1972 50-year reunion in Kyle Field on April 20, 2022.
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Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Coaching legend Joe Paterno dies at age 85

Joe Paterno, college football’s all-time winningest head coach and Penn State icon, died Sunday of lung cancer. He was 85.
Nicknamed “JoePa,” Paterno’s death comes in the wake of his mid-season firing in November amidst charges of sexual abuse against former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.
It was revealed in mid-November by Paterno’s son, Scott, that his father was being treated for lung cancer. Paterno died in a Pennsylvania hospital where he had been receiving cancer treatments since Jan. 13.
Paterno coached for 62 years at Penn State, rising from assistant to head coach in 1966. In his 46 seasons as program leader, Paterno led the Nittany Lions to a record 409 wins, three Big 10 Conference titles and two national championships. More than 350 of his players went on to play in the NFL, including 33 first-round draft picks.
College Station resident and Pennsylvania native Maxwell Dallmeyer said Paterno’s influence reached beyond football, with several of his family members and friends offering their prayers to the Paterno family via Facebook.
“The first time I ever saw JoePa, he was signing autographs before one of the scrimmage games. My grandpa pointed him out, and there was a whole crowd of people around him,” Dallmeyer said. “I couldn’t even get to him, but I could see him talking to everyone, signing autographs for kids and blowing kisses. One of the coaches had to actually come up and pull him away because the game was about to start.”
Paterno faced criticism in early November when it was reported he failed to contact police after learning of an alleged rape involving Sandusky inside Penn State’s football complex in 2002. Then-graduate assistant Mike McQueary, who testified before a grand jury that he witnessed Sandusky assaulting a child, brought the incident to Paterno’s attention.
The longtime coach made Penn State authorities aware of the situation, but law enforcement was never contacted.
“You know, [McQueary] didn’t want to get specific,” Paterno said in a Washington Post interview. “And to be frank with you, I don’t know that it would have done any good, because I never heard of, of, rape and a man. So I just did what I thought was best. I talked to people that I thought would be, if there was a problem, that would be following up on it.”
Both Graham Spanier, Penn State University president, and Paterno were dismissed by the school’s board of trustees in November. Sandusky awaits trial and is charged with more than 50 counts of child sex abuse during a 15-year period.
“Because of the Sandusky scandal, it’ll be hard for anyone to remember Joe Paterno without remembering that incident,” said Taylor Andrus, senior supply chain management major. “That incident will always be part of his legacy.”
Former President George H. W. Bush, whose presidential library is on A&M’s campus, was a friend of Paterno and released a statement following news of his death.
“He was an outstanding American who was respected not only on the field of play but in life generally — and he was, without a doubt, a true icon in the world of sports,” Bush said in the statement. “I was proud that he was a friend of mine.”

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