Timeline of events related to the death of Penn State football coach Joe Paterno


Oct. 29: Penn State defeats Illinois 10-7 in what turns out to be Joe Paterno’s final game as head coach. Paterno watches from the press box as his 409th victory is sealed when an Illinois field goal bounces off the upright as time expires.

Nov. 5: The state Attorney General’s Office indicts longtime Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky on numerous charges related to alleged sexual abuse of young boys. Under Paterno, Sandusky helped developed Penn State into “Linebacker U.” Penn State athletics director Tim Curley and vice president for finance Gary Schultz are charged with perjury and failure to report abuse, accused of covering up Sandusky’s crimes.

Nov. 9: Paterno and Penn State President Graham Spanier are fired by the board of trustees, prompting a vigil at the Nittany Lion Shrine on campus and sparking a violent disturbance in downtown State College, where a TV news van is overturned. Rodney Erickson is named acting president and defensive coordinator Tom Bradley becomes interim head football coach. Earlier in the day, Paterno announces he will retire at the end of the season. In a statement, Paterno says: “This is a tragedy. It is one of the great sorrows of my life. With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more.”

Nov. 12: In its first game after Paterno’s firing, and following a week of turmoil, Penn State loses 17-14 to Nebraska at Beaver Stadium before a crowd of more than 107,000.

Nov. 16: Dr. David Joyner, who played football under Paterno and wrestled at Penn State, steps down from the board of trustees to become the university’s interim director of athletics.

Nov. 28: Penn State announces the formation of a six-person search committee to find its next head football coach.

Dec. 4: Penn State accepts a bid to play Houston in the TicketCity Bowl in Dallas.

Dec. 9: Penn State announces that it will no longer offer merchandise featuring Paterno’s likeness. Local stores are permitted to sell off any remaining merchandise.

Dec. 21: Paterno supporters gather outside his State College home to sing “Happy Birthday” as the ex-coach turns 85. Paterno, his wife Sue, and other family members come out to thank the crowd.


Jan. 2: Houston defeats Penn State 30-14 in the TicketCity Bowl.

Jan. 6: Bill O’Brien, offensive coordinator with the NFL’s New England Patriots, is named head coach at Penn State.

Jan. 9: Joe and Sue Paterno donate $100,000 to Penn State, $50,000 for the library and $50,000 for the fellows program in the College of the Liberal Arts.

Jan. 11: At a forum in Pittsburgh, alumni decry Paterno’s firing and the trustees’ handling of the Sandusky scandal.

Jan. 21: Rumors and false reports of Paterno’s death swirl. Mourners gather at the Paterno statue outside Beaver Stadium.

Jan. 22: The Paterno family announces that Joe Paterno died that morning of complications from lung cancer.

Jan. 24-25: Thousands of mourners pass through the Pasquerilla Spiritual Center on the Penn State campus to view Paterno’s casket. Current and former football players stand by the closed casket.

Jan. 25: A funeral service is held at the Pasquerilla Spiritual Center, attended by hundreds including former players such as Franco Harris, Todd Blackledge, Ki-Jana Carter, Matt Millen, Lenny Moore and Matt Suhey. Thousands line the streets on campus and in State College as a hearse takes Paterno’s casket through town, past Beaver Stadium and on to Spring Creek Presbyterian Cemetery, where he is buried.

Jan. 26: More than 12,000 attend a memorial service at the Bryce Jordan Center, where Paterno is remembered for his contributions to Penn State and the community. Speakers include Nike founder Phil Knight; Jeff Bast, the first “mayor” of “Paternoville”; Susan Welch, dean onf the university’s College of the Liberal Arts; Paterno’s son and former assistant coach Jay; and a player from each decade of Paterno’s coaching tenure.

Feb. 28: State College borough and College Township say 7,000 people signed a petition to rename Park Avenue to Paterno Way in honor of the late coach. The renaming never occurs.

March 12: Penn State trustees cite a lack of leadership by Joe Paterno and Graham Spanier as the reason behind the decision to terminate both men from their jobs in November.

April 18: The Paterno family says a new book, “Game Over,” about the Sandusky scandal, makes “egregious use of false and slanderous statements” about Paterno.

April 21: The Penn State football team plays its annual Blue-White scrimmage at Beaver Stadium. It is O’Brien’s first time on the sidelines publicly as head coach of the Nittany Lions. The game reportedly attracts 60,000 fans, many of whom have tributes to Paterno at their tailgates.

April 22: A 5K race in Paterno’s honor raises about $292,000 to benefit Special Olympics Pennsylvania. The race draws more than 3,000 runners and walkers to Beaver Stadium.

May 4: Former Penn State player Adam Taliaferro joins businessman Anthony Lubrano and retired Navy SEAL Ryan McCombie as the new members of the board of trustees elected by alumni. In campaigning for a seat, Lubrano had criticized the board for the decision to terminate Paterno as head football coach.

May 8: Former Penn State wide receivers coach Mike McQueary says he will sue the university in what his court filing describes as a whistleblower lawsuit. McQueary had testified before a grand jury that he once saw Sandusky in a shower with a boy and reported the incident to Paterno. The suit is filed in October.

June 22: Sandusky is convicted on 45 of 48 counts of child sexual abuse.

July 12: Former FBI Director Louis Freeh’s report into the Sandusky scandal is released. Among its findings, the Freeh report says Paterno was aware of allegations of inappropriate behavior by Sandusky as far back as 1998 and “failed to take any action, even though Sandusky had been a key member of his coaching staff for almost 30 years.” The Freeh report implicates Paterno, Spanier, Curley and Schultz in a cover-up of Sandusky’s behavior. Paterno’s family responds: “Joe Paterno mistakenly believed that investigations, law enforcement officials, university leaders and others would properly and fully investigate any issue and proceed as the facts dictated.”

July 18: A small silver plane circles Penn State’s campus towing a banner with a message about the Paterno statue outside Beaver Stadium. The banner reads: “Take the statue down or we will.” The banner is traced to an advertising company in Ohio but its ultimate source remains a secret.

July 22: Penn State workers remove the Joe Paterno statue from outside Beaver Stadium just after dawn. Within days, the entire plaza is replaced by sod and trees. University President Erickson announces that Paterno’s name will remain on Penn State’s library.

July 23: Penn State is hit with severe sanctions from the NCAA following the Freeh report. Among the sanctions is the vacating of all football wins from 1998 through 2011. A Paterno family statement includes: “The release of the Freeh report has triggered an avalanche of vitriol, condemnation and posthumous punishment on Joe Paterno. The NCAA has now become the latest party to accept the report as the final word on the Sandusky scandal.”

Aug. 2: Officials at Mount Nittany Medical Center say Paterno’s name will not be removed from the hospital’s maternity wing. Joe and Sue Paterno had donated $1 million to the project.

Aug. 4: The Paterno family announces plans to appeal Penn State’s sanctions, saying the NCAA operated in “a fundamentally inappropriate” way. A group of former players make a similar statement a few days later.

Aug. 21: “Paterno,” an autobiography of the late coach by former Kansas City Star and Sports Illustrated columnist Joe Posnanski, is released. The author was granted access to many family moments during research for the book, and portrayed Paterno as devastated by the impact of the Sandusky charges.

Sept. 8: The Suzanne Pohland Paterno Catholic Student Faith Center on East Park Avenue is dedicated during a ceremony and Mass.

Sept. 15: A crowd of about 1,000 turns out for the “Rally for Resignations” on the steps of Old Main, with speakers calling for changes on the Penn State board of trustees and among top officials. The rally features former Nittany Lions and Pittsburgh Steelers star Franco Harris. Many in the crowd are holding signs touting “409” — Paterno’s win total before the NCAA sanctions stripped away 111 victories.

Oct. 17: Billboards begin popping up across the state with messages such as “WHY? was Governor (Tom) Corbett so quick to blame Joe Paterno and so slow to prosecute Jerry Sandusky.”

Nov. 10: A year and a day after the announcement of the Sandusky charges, Franco Harris leads a forum in Pittsburgh — “Upon Further Review: Penn State One Year Later” — in part to discuss the Freeh findings and Joe Paterno’s firing. About 75 people attend, and watch a clip from filmmaker John Ziegler's documentary, “The Framing of Joe Paterno.”

Nov. 17: Bill O’Brien is named Big Ten Conference coach of the year.

Nov. 24: Penn State defeats Rose Bowl-bound Wisconsin 24-21 in overtime to complete an 8-4 season but is banned from appearing in a bowl game because of the NCAA sanctions.


Jan. 2: Gov. Tom Corbett announces plans to sue the NCAA on behalf of the state of Pennsylvania in a bid to have the sanctions reduced or dropped.

Jan. 22: The first anniversary of the death of Joe Paterno is to include a vigil in downtown State College.