STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Joe Paterno's doctors say the former Penn State coach's condition has become "serious" after he experienced complications from lung cancer in recent days.
The winningest major college football coach of all time, Paterno was diagnosed shortly after Penn State's board of trustees ousted him Nov. 9 in the aftermath of the child sex abuse charges against former assistant Jerry Sandusky. Paterno has been getting treatment since, and his health problems worsened when he broke his pelvis -- an injury that first cropped up when he was accidentally hit in preseason practice last year.
"Over the last few days, Joe Paterno has experienced further health complications," family spokesman Dan McGinn said in a brief statement yesterday. "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."
Paterno's sons Scott and Jay both took to Twitter last night to refute reports that their father had died.
Wrote Jay Paterno: "I appreciate the support [and] prayers. Joe is continuing to fight."
The 85-year-old Paterno has been in the hospital since Jan. 13 for observation for what his family had called minor complications from his cancer treatments. Not long before that, he conducted his only interview since losing his job, with The Washington Post. Paterno was described as frail and wearing a wig. The second half of the two-day interview was conducted by his bedside.
Police last night had barricaded off the block where Paterno lives, and a police car was stationed about 50 yards from his home. A light was on in the living room but there was no activity inside. No one was outside, other than reporters and photographers stationed there.