Ex-Penn State football coach Joe Paterno has lung cancer, his son Scott Paterno said in a statement released Friday afternoon.
Scott Paterno said in the statement provided to The Associated Press by a family representative that Paterno is undergoing treatment and that "his doctors are optimistic he will make a full recovery."
The report was later confirmed by NBC News.
Specifics about the disease weren’t immediately known but the younger Paterno said his 84-year-old father has a treatable form of lung cancer.
"As everyone can appreciate, this is a deeply personal matter for my parents, and we simply ask that his privacy be respected as he proceeds with treatment," Scott Paterno said.
His son said that the diagnosis was made during a follow-up appointment for a bronchial illness.
The legendary coach spoke to reporters the night after he was fired but otherwise mostly has stayed out of the public eye. This past Wednesday, though, he was seen outside the campus medical center with what appeared to be doctors.
The winningest coach in major college football history was fired on Nov. 9 after announcing earlier in the day that he would retire at the end of the season. He was let go after allegations of child sex abuse against his former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky and the alleged lack of reporting by leaders of the athletic department came to light.
Paterno doesn't face any legal charges in relation to the abuse charges or the alleged possible cover-up.
The lurid scandal has tarnished the reputation of a football program that once prided itself on the slogan "Success with Honor." The Hall of Famer's 409 career victories are a Division I record. In all, Paterno guided five teams to unbeaten, untied seasons, and won two national championships.
Sandusky was once expected to succeed Paterno before retiring in 1999.
Two university officials stepped down after they were charged with lying to a grand jury and failing to report the 2002 charge to police, an assault which allegedly took place in a shower in the football building.
The grand jury report said the attack was witnessed by Mike McQueary, a graduate assistant at the time. Now the receivers coach but on administrative leave, McQueary told the grand jury he went to his father first and then to Paterno, who in turn told a university superior but didn't go to the police.