(RNN) - Joe Paterno, 85, has died following a battle with lung cancer, according to the Associated Press. The former Penn State University head coach had been in the hospital since Jan. 13 for observation due to complications from the cancer.
Paterno won more college football games than any other coach before his 46-year career at Penn State ended in the wake of a child sex abuse scandal.
Paterno became head coach of the Nittany Lions in 1966, replacing Rip Engle, who had been Paterno's coach at Brown and brought him onto the PSU staff as an assistant in 1950.
He posted a career record of 409-136-3 until the university fired him in November of the 2011 season after a former assistant coach was accused by a grand jury of sexually assaulting young boys in the Penn State football facilities over a period of years. Jerry Sandusky, who served as Paterno's defensive coordinator and who remained attached to the program through a charity for disadvantaged children, was charged with dozens of child molestation charges.
Paterno's program, previously regarded as one of the cleanest in college football, produced 78 All-American players. He stressed academics, and the program produced 16 National Football Foundation Scholar Athletes, 37 first-team Academic All Americans and 47 overall. Eighteen of his players won postgraduate scholarship awards from the NCAA.
He won two national championships in 1982 and 1986 and produced five undefeated and untied teams. His teams finished in the Top 10 of national rankings 23 times. He won American Football Association Coach of the Year five times. His teams appeared in More than 350 of his players went on to NFL careers.
Paterno spoke out about his role in the Sandusky scandal to the Washington Post just before he was hospitalized, expressing regret at his lack of understanding and wishing he had done more.
His family asked for prayer after their spokesperson told the Associated Press Saturday that the former Penn State University head coach was in "serious" condition following reports that he had died.
"Dad is alive but in serious condition. We continue to ask for your prayers and privacy during this time," Paterno's son, Scott Paterno, tweeted.
The rumors of his death were traced back to a Penn State student publication, Onward State, which mistakenly said Paterno was dead. The managing editor of the publication released a statement about the mistake in a Facebook post, apologized for any anguish caused and resigned from his position.
Copyright 2012 Raycom New Network. All rights reserved.
7831 N. Business Park Drive