Despite reports that the 85-year-old has died from complications from lung cancer, the New York Times confirmed with a family spokesperson that those claims are untrue. Times reporter Mark Viera tweeted on Jan. 21, “Dan McGinn, the Paterno family spokesman, at 8:57 p.m. on reports about Joe Paterno’s death: ‘Absolutely not true.'”
Earlier, McGinn told the Associated Press that Paterno’s health had taken a turn for the worse. “Over the last few days Joe Paterno has experienced further health
complications,” he says. “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.”
After that update, a report in the Penn State student newspaper said that the school’s football players had been notified of Paterno’s death via email. That story was then picked up by CBS and other news outlets, hence the confusion.
Still, according to McGinn’s statement, it appears that Paterno’s death is imminent. Paterno was diagnosed with lung cancer shortly after his Nov. 9 firing.