About 200 students and townspeople have gathered in State College at a statue of former Penn State coach Joe Paterno, who is seriously ill at a local hospital.

Some who gathered Saturday night brought candles, while others held up their smartphones to take photos of the scene. The mood was somber, with no chanting or shouting.

Paterno’s doctors say his condition has become “serious” after he experienced complications from lung cancer in recent days.

Paterno’s son Jay tweeted, “Drove by students at the Joe statue. Just told my Dad about all the love & support–inspiring him.”

The statue is just outside a gate at Beaver Stadium.



A family spokesman says former Penn State coach  Paterno, who is battling lung cancer, is in serious condition after experiencing health complications and denies reports that Paterno has died.

The 85-year-old Paterno has been in the hospital since Jan. 13 for observation for what his family had called minor complications from cancer treatments. “Over the last few days Joe Paterno has experienced further health complications,” spokesman Dan McGinn said in a brief statement Saturday to The Associated Press. “His doctors have now characterized his status as serious.

“His family will have no comment on the situation and asks that their privacy be respected during this difficult time,” he said.

Paterno was diagnosed with cancer in November, days after getting ousted as head coach in the aftermath of the child sex abuse charges against former assistant Jerry Sandusky.

PSU editor quits after erroneous Paterno report


The managing editor of a student-run news organization that covers Penn State resigned Saturday after the publication’s Twitter account sent messages saying former coach Joe Paterno had died, according to a letter on the publication’s website.

Paterno’s sons refuted accounts of their 85-year-old father’s death in Twitter messages posted after those by Onward State. “I appreciate the support & prayers. Joe is continuing to fight,” Jay Paterno tweeted.

Paterno has lung cancer and has been in a hospital since Jan. 13. His doctors say recent complications have made his condition “serious.”

Onward State recanted its posts but not before the erroneous information was reported and amplified by many media organizations across the country and retweeted countless times. The Associated Press did not publish the report.

Devon Edwards said in the letter that he takes responsibility for the misinformation. He said the publication retracted its tweets after “the mountain of evidence stacked opposite that report became too much to ignore.”

He also apologized to apologized to the Paterno family and the Penn State community. “I never, in a million years, would have thought that Onward State might be cited by the national media,” his letter said. “Today, I sincerely wish it never had been.”

The incorrect information found its way onto media websites, including CBSSports.com, People.com and the Huffington Post.

CBSSports.com had run a photo of Paterno with a caption saying the longtime Penn State coach “loses his battle with lung cancer at 85.” The blurb did not include the source of the information.

In an apology on its site, CBSSports.com said the mistake “was the result of a failure to verify the original report. CBSSports.com holds itself to high journalistic standards, and in this circumstance tonight, we fell well short of those expectations.”

Edwards did not explain in his letter how the error occurred but hinted that the pressure to get the story first may have been a factor. “In this day and age, getting it first often conflicts with getting it right, but our intention was never to fall into that chasm,” the letter said. “All I can do now is promise that in the future, we will exercise caution, restraint, and humility.”


(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)