Here’s a look at the life of the late Joe Paterno, longtime head football coach of the Penn State Nittany Lions.
Birth date: December 21, 1926
Death date: January 22, 2012
Birth place: Brooklyn, New York
Birth name: Joseph Vincent Paterno
Father: Angelo Lafayette Paterno, law clerk
Mother: Florence (de Salle) Paterno
Marriage: Suzanne “Sue” (Pohland) Paterno (1962-January 22, 2012, his death)
Children: Diana; Joseph Jr. “Jay”; Mary Kathryn; David; Scott
Education: Brown University, B.A. in English, 1950
Military service: U.S. Army, 1945-1946
Was nicknamed “JoePa.”
Paterno’s wife, Sue, and their five children all graduated from Penn State.
Paterno’s son, Jay, was an assistant football coach at Penn State from 1995 to January 2012.
Penn State had 5 undefeated seasons under Paterno: 1968, 1969, 1973, 1986 and 1994.
1950 - Becomes an assistant football coach at Penn State under head coach Charles “Rip” Engle.
February 19, 1966 - Named head coach at Penn State.
1982 and 1986 - Coaches Penn State to national championship victories.
2000 - Construction on Penn State’s Paterno Library is completed, which is named after Joe and Sue Paterno who also chaired its fundraising campaign.
November 4, 2006 - Suffers a broken leg during a sideline collision.
2007 - Is inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
October 29, 2011 - Wins 409th career victory to surpass Grambling State coach Eddie Robinson as the winningest coach in NCAA Division I football.
November 4, 2011 - A grand jury report is released containing testimony alleging that former Penn State University defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky sexually abused eight young boys over a period of at least 15 years. Officials at Penn State also purportedly failed to notify law enforcement after learning about some of these incidents.
– The grand jury report says graduate assistant Mike McQueary told Coach Paterno that he witnessed the rape of a 10-year-old boy by Jerry Sandusky on February 9, 2001 in the Lasch Building showers at Penn State. Paterno refers to the incident as “fondling” or “something of a sexual nature” in his testimony to the grand jury.
– Paterno reports the incident to Athletic Director Tim Curley the day after he is told by McQueary, according to a grand jury report, but no law enforcement investigation is launched.
November 9, 2011 - Paterno announces that he intends to retire at the end of the 2011 football season. Hours later, university trustees announce he and university president Graham Spanier are fired, effective immediately. Paterno coached football at Penn State for 62 seasons, including 45 years as head coach.
November 9, 2011 - In response to Paterno’s firing, protesting Penn State students clash with police. The crowd tips over a news van and is later dispersed with tear gas.
November 12, 2011 - The Penn State Nittany Lions lose to the Nebraska Cornhuskers, 17-14. It is the first game since Paterno’s firing.
November 18, 2011 - Scott Paterno announces that his father has a treatable form of lung cancer.
December 11, 2011 - Paterno is admitted to a hospital with a re-fractured pelvis due to a fall in his home. He initially injured his pelvis in August during a preseason practice collision.
December 16, 2011 - Is released from the hospital.
January 22, 2012 - Dies of metastatic small cell carcinoma of the lung at Mount Nittany Medical Center in State College at the age of 85.
June 22, 2012 - Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky is found guilty on 45 of 48 counts related to sexual abuse of boys over a 15-year period. He is later sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison.
July 12, 2012 - Former FBI Director Louis Freeh releases the findings of the investigation into Penn State’s action concerning Sandusky and child abuse. The report accuses Paterno and other former leaders at Penn State of showing “total and consistent disregard” for child sex abuse victims, while covering up the attacks of a longtime sexual predator.
July 23, 2012 - The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) rules that Penn State must vacate all wins from 1998-2011. Due to the vacated wins, Paterno is no longer the all-time winningest coach in NCAA Division I football history. Of his 409 wins, Paterno is stripped of 111, leaving him with 298.
May 30, 2013 - The Paterno family and others file a lawsuit against the NCAA to invalidate sanctions handed down against Penn State in July 2012. Penn State was fined $60 million, stripped of 14 seasons of football victories and reduced scholarships. The NCAA later seeks to dismiss the suit.
January 16, 2015 - The NCAA agrees to restore 112 of Penn State’s wins - 111 of them with Joe Paterno. The agreement is part of a settlement reached between Pennsylvania state officials and Paterno’s family, who filed a lawsuit against the NCAA. This resolution restores his status as the winningest coach in NCAA Division I football. The Paterno family releases a statement on the NCAA’s decision that “a large measure of wrong has been righted.”
May 4, 2016 - A new allegation purports Paterno knew that his assistant coach Jerry Sandusky was sexually abusing a child as early as 1976, according to a new court filing in an ongoing lawsuit brought by Penn State against its former insurance company. This date is 12 years before what had been thought was the earliest known allegation of abuse by Sandusky.
May 6, 2016 - CNN reports on another alleged victim who explained how he was a troubled young kid in 1971 when he was raped in a Penn State bathroom by Jerry Sandusky. Then, he says, his complaint about it was ignored by Paterno.
July 12, 2016 - Newly unsealed court documents allege that Paterno knew about Sandusky’s abuse and that he dismissed a victim’s complaint.
February 21, 2020 - Penn State announces that it has reached a “resolution of the outstanding issues” between the university and Paterno’s family, eight years after a university report blamed Paterno and others for allegedly taking part in a cover-up to avoid bad publicity related to the Sandusky scandal.