Joe Paterno, the legendary Penn State football coach who was fired amid sexual assault allegations against his former assistant coach, has lung cancer, according to reports.
Paterno’s son Scott released a statement saying his father was diagnosed with a treatable form of lung cancer last weekend during a follow up-visit for bronchial illness.
“As everyone can appreciate, this is a deeply personal matter for my parents, and we simply ask that his privacy be respected as he proceeds with treatment,” he said in a statement released to the Associated Press.
Earlier this month, the Penn State board of trustees fired the 84-year-old coach, saying it was in the best interest of the university to do so with sexual assault allegations rocking the campus.
The Hall of Fame coach holds the Division 1 record with 409 victories. He also guided his teams to two national championship victories during his 46-year run at Penn State.
On the same day he was fired, Paterno released a statement saying he would retire at the end of the season.
“This is a tragedy,” Paterno said earlier that day. “It is one of the great sorrows of my life. With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more.”
Nearly two weeks ago, Paterno’s former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky was arrested and charged with raping eight boys over a 15-year period.
In a grand jury report released to the public, assistant coach Mike McQueary, then a graduate assistant, allegedly witnessed Sandusky sodomizing a boy he thought to be 10 or 11 years old in the shower of the Penn State locker room in 2002.
According to the report, after witnessing the alleged attack, McQueary called his father who instructed him to notify Paterno about the incident. The coach then notified athletic director Tim Curley and vice president Gary Schultz, the report says.
Paterno, along with McQueary, have been criticized for not informing authorities about the alleged rape.
Curley and Schultz, have stepped down, and the former president of the university, Graham B. Spanier, was fired the same day as Paterno.