Embattled former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno has died at the age of 85, according to a report from the Associated Press. Earlier Saturday night, a spokesman for the Paterno family had indicated that his health was deteriorating. Paterno has been battling lung cancer, and complications with his chemotherapy treatments ultimately led to his death. His family released a brief statement today.
"It is with great sadness that we announce that Joe Paterno passed away earlier today. His loss leaves a void in our lives that will never be filled. He died as he lived. He fought hard until the end, stayed positive, thought only of others and constantly reminded everyone of how blessed his life had been. His ambitions were far reaching, but he never believed he had to leave this Happy Valley to achieve them. He was a man devoted to his family, his university, his players and his community."
Paterno coached Penn State for 46 seasons before being fired late in the 2011 season, due to the fallout from the child sex abuse scandal involving his longtime defensive coordinator, Jerry Sandusky.
During Paterno's tenure at Penn State, he took the program to unparalleled heights, highlighted by two national championships, five undefeated seasons, and Paterno set the record for most wins by a single coach in Division 1 football history, with 409.
His name has long been synonymous with the Penn State program, and current students and alumni were quick to come to his defense after the University announced he was be fired. Penn State finished off the 2011 season with a 1-3 record under interim coach Tom Bradley, another longtime Paterno assistant.
Bill O'Brien, the current offensive coordinator of the New England Patriots, will take over the Penn State program at the conclusion of the Patriots season.
For more on Paterno's death, visit Black Shoe Diaries.