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. His career ended with his dismissal from the team in November 2011 as a result of the Penn State child sex abuse scandal.
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.
After the child sex abuse scandal involving his former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky broke in full in November 2011, Paterno announced that he would retire at the end of the season. However, on November 9, the Penn State Board of Trustees rejected this disclosure and immediately terminated his contract. An investigation conducted by former FBI director Louis Freeh concluded in July 2012 that Paterno concealed information relating to Sandusky's sexual abuse of young boys. The investigation also uncovered information that Paterno may have persuaded university officials not to report Sandusky to authorities in 2001. A critique of the Freeh report composed by Dick Thornburgh, a former U.S. attorney general and Pennsylvania governor, of the law firm King & Spalding, which was commissioned by the Paterno family, disputed Paterno's involvement in the alleged cover-up and accused Freeh of making unsupported conclusions. Freeh called the critique a "self-serving report" that "does not change the facts."
On July 23, 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. The association eliminated 111 of the games Paterno had coached and won, which dropped him from first to 12th on the list of winningest NCAA football coaches. In January 2013, State senator Jake Corman and state treasurer Rob McCord launched a lawsuit against the NCAA to overturn the sanctions on Penn State on the basis that Freeh had been actively collaborating with the NCAA and that due process had not been followed. As part of the settlement, the NCAA reversed its decision on January 16, 2015, and restored the 111 wins to Paterno's record.
Paterno died of complications from lung cancer at age 85 on January 22, 2012, only two months after being fired by the university. Wikipedia