- Associated Press - Saturday, January 14, 2012

STATE COLLEGE, PA. (AP) - Joe Paterno speaks mostly in a whisper these days. His hand sometimes trembles. His thick black hair is gone; in its place is a wig.

Sitting at his kitchen table in a wheelchair, a blanket rests in his lap. A broken pelvis has taken its toll, so have the constant radiation treatments for lung cancer.

In his first interview since being fired by Penn State two months ago, the winningest coach in Division I football told The Washington Post he’s “shocked and saddened” by the scandal that enveloped the place where he spent more than six decades.

Yet the 85-year-old Paterno refused to bash the school or say a bad word about the man at the center of the turmoil.

Instead, Paterno said he “didn’t know which way to go” after an assistant coach came to him in 2002 saying he had seen retired defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky sexually abusing a boy.

“I think we got to wait and see what happens,” Paterno said in an interview posted Saturday on the newspaper’s website. “The courts are taking care of it, the legal system is taking care of it.”

Post reporter Sally Jenkins paints a portrait of a frail Paterno, hardly the robust character seen walking the sidelines for so many years.

“Speak up,” Paterno’s wife, Sue, sometimes says.

Paterno told the Post that assistant Mike McQueary “didn’t want to get specific” about details in his allegation involving Sandusky, who McQueary said was showering with a boy in the Penn State football facility.

Paterno said he was hesitant to make follow-up calls because he didn’t want to be seen as trying to exert influence either for or against Sandusky.

“I didn’t know which way to go … And rather than get in there and make a mistake,” he told the Post before trailing off.

A day after he heard McQueary’s allegation, Paterno reported it to his superiors. Paterno said he previously had “no inkling” Sandusky might be a child molester.

Sandusky was criminally charged on Nov. 5 and faces dozens of counts. Paterno was ousted four days later after 46 years as head coach.

“Right now I’m trying to figure out what I’m gonna do,” Paterno said. “`Cause I don’t want to sit around on my backside all day.”

Paterno was diagnosed with lung cancer days after his dismissal. He was readmitted to the hospital Friday for observation for what his family called a minor complication from treatments. He has been undergoing chemotherapy and radiation.

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