Former Penn State University football coach Joe Paterno is in serious condition after suffering complications related to his lung cancer, the New York Times reported.
CBS News reported Saturday night that Paterno died of cancer, but family spokesman Dan McGinn quickly replied that the reports are "absolutely not true."
The misreport caused confusion and anger on Twitter. Penn State's Onward State online news service, who reported the false information, tweeted:
"To OS followers: Our 8:45 pm tweet about Joe Paterno's death appears to be inaccurate, according to Jay Paterno, who says he's alive. We were confident when we ran with it, and are still trying to figure out where our process failed. We apologize sincerely for error."
Adam Jacobi, the CBS reporter who wrote the story, received a firestorm of criticism. One Twitter user wrote: "REALLY???????? May I offer YOU my condolenses. You need them for reporting that JoePa died. Journalism 101 - #FACTCHECK."
Paterno, 85, was diagnosed with lung cancer soon after being fired by Penn State on Nov. 9, 2011, for his inadequate response to allegations that retired defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky had sexually molested a boy at the university. Sandusky has been charged with sexually abusing 10 boys over 15 years, the Chicago Tribune reported.
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Earlier today, Paterno’s lawyer, Wick Sollers indicated that his condition had grown worse, the New York Times reported.
“Over the last few days, Joe Paterno has experienced further health complications,” his lawyer, Wick Sollers, said in a statement this evening, according to the Times. “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 was hospitalized on Jan. 13, shortly after he gave his first – and to date, only – interview about the Sandusky scandal to the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune reported. At the time, Post sports columnist Sally Jenkins described him as “wracked by radiation and chemotherapy, in a wheelchair with a broken pelvis.”
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In his 46 seasons as head football coach, Paterno led the Penn State football team to 409 victories, more than any other coach in major college football, The Times reported.
Jay Paterno posted on his Twitter page: "I appreciate the support & prayers. Joe is continuing to fight."