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Joe Paterno

American college football coach

Died when: 85 years 32 days
Star Sign: Capricorn

 

Joe Paterno Joseph Vincent Paterno (; December 21, 1926 – January 22, 2012), sometimes referred to as JoePa, was an American college football player, athletic director, and coach. He was the head coach of the Penn State Nittany Lions from 1966 to 2011. With 409 victories, Paterno is the most victorious coach in NCAA FBS history. He recorded his 409th victory on October 29, 2011; his career ended with his dismissal from the team on November 9, 2011, as a result of the Penn State child sex abuse scandal. He died 74 days later, of complications from lung cancer. Paterno was born in Brooklyn, New York. He attended Brown University, where he played football both ways as the quarterback and a cornerback. He had originally planned on going to law school, but he was instead hired in 1950 as an assistant football coach at Penn State. He was persuaded to do this by his college coach Rip Engle, who had taken over as Penn State's head coach. In 1966, Paterno was named as Engle's successor. He soon coached the team to two undefeated regular seasons in 1968 and 1969. The team won two national championships—in 1982 and 1986. Paterno coached five undefeated teams that won major bowl games, and in 2007 he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach. During his career, he led the Nittany Lions to 37 bowl appearances with 24 wins while turning down offers to coach National Football League (NFL) teams that included the Pittsburgh Steelers and the New England Patriots. Paterno's coaching career ended abruptly in 2011, when the Penn State Board of Trustees terminated his contract in response to a child sex abuse scandal involving Paterno's former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky. An investigation conducted by former FBI director Louis Freeh concluded that Paterno concealed information relating to Sandusky's sexual abuse of young boys. A critique of the Freeh report by the law firm King & Spalding, commissioned by the Paterno family, disputed Paterno's involvement in the alleged cover-up. In 2012, the NCAA vacated all of Penn State's wins from 1998 through 2011 as part of its punishment for the child sex abuse scandal, dropping Paterno from first to 12th on the list of winningest NCAA football coaches. In a 2015 legal settlement with Penn State, the NCAA reversed its decision and restored all 111 wins to Paterno's record.
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