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09/01/2016 05:25 pm ET

Penn State To Honor Joe Paterno Before September Football Game

The late coach was fired in 2011 amid a child abuse scandal involving a Penn State assistant.
Penn State head coach Joe Paterno watches his team in Orlando, Florida, in 2010. He died in 2012.
Scott Audette / Reuters
Penn State head coach Joe Paterno watches his team in Orlando, Florida, in 2010. He died in 2012.

Penn State will honor former head football coach Joe Paterno before a home game against Temple on Sept. 17, the school’s athletic department announced Thursday.

The celebration is meant to mark the 50th anniversary of the first game Paterno coached at Penn State. The press release containing the announcement, which was first spotted by a Penn State news website and then reported by Sports Illustrated, did not provide details on what the ceremony will include. 

Paterno coached at Penn State for more than four decades before he was fired in November 2011, amid the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal that engulfed the football program and the university. Sandusky, a former Penn State assistant coach, was found guilty in 2012 of sexually abusing 10 boys.

The case involved questions about whether Paterno had known about the abuse allegations against Sandusky, and whether he had failed to report knowledge of potential abuse. Paterno died in January 2012, but his family has maintained that the coach did not have any involvement in covering up the scandal. 

Court documents released in July, however, showed that a man testified in 2014 that he told Paterno in 1976 that Sandusky had abused him at a football camp, but that the head coach ignored his complaint. Paterno had testified in 2011 that he did not first hear of any incident involving Sandusky until 2001. The family again denied that Paterno “engaged in a cover up of Jerry Sandusky’s crimes.”

Penn State has been under pressure to honor Paterno in recent months, after more than 200 former football players petitioned the school to replace the statue of Paterno the school removed from outside its football stadium in the wake of the scandal. 

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