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Fired football coach loses fight with lung cancer


The American football coach fired by Penn State University last November because of allegations of child abuse by an assistant under his watch died yesterday after weeks of battling lung cancer.

Joe Paterno passed away at the age of 85, his family said in a statement, barely three months after his firing over a scandal that continues to shake the world of collegiate sport in the United States.

Until his abrupt ouster by the board of trustees at Penn State on 9 November, Mr Paterno was the most-celebrated coach in college-level American football. His reign at Penn State, during which he achieved an unchallenged record run of wins for his teams, had lasted 46 years. It was only after his firing that Mr Paterno was diagnosed with lung cancer.

His position at Penn became untenable when charges of sexual abuse of minors were filed against Jerry Sandusky, who had been a deputy coach. Mr Paterno, prosecutors say, had been made aware of the alleged incidents of abuse including some that occurred on college grounds, but did not choose to tell police. Mr Sandusky, who is under house arrest and has insisted that he is innocent, is awaiting trial on 52 counts of abuse of boys over a period of 15 years.

The firing of Mr Paterno triggered riots on the university campus from outraged students.