Andrea Mastro, an immunology professor who lives in the same neighborhood where Paterno lived and raised a family _ with his address and number, famously, listed in the phone book _ said the rapid spread of the cancer and the shadow of the Sandusky investigation made “the whole situation very sad.”
“I can’t help but thinking that his death is somehow related” to the stress of the scandal, she said after Mass on Sunday at Our Lady of Victory Catholic Church, where Paterno sometimes attended services. “I think everybody is going to be extremely sad, and they’re going to be sad in particular because he didn’t get his say.”
Mickey Shuler, who played for Penn State under Paterno in the mid-‘70s, said the coach had been a father figure and expressed his disappointment about how he was fired.
“It’s just sad, because I think he died from other things than lung cancer,” Shuler said. “I don’t think that the Penn State that he helped us to become and all the principles and values and things that he taught were carried out in the handling of his situation.”
The trustees and school President Rodney Erickson issued a statement saying the university plans to honor Paterno but is still working on what form that will take, and when it will happen.
At a women’s basketball game Sunday, Penn State players wore a black strap on their shoulders in memory of Paterno.
“It’s been the first time I’ve ever seen a man guilty and have to be proven innocent,” said Jamie Bloom, a 1992 graduate from Williamsport. “I think they caved to the media pressure to do something.”
“But then, and now, is a very sad day,” Peetz said. “What does Paterno mean to me? He means Penn State. But I think he was too powerful.”
Steve Wrath, a 1984 graduate, became emotional as he spoke outside the football stadium, in front of Paterno’s statue, which was adorned with lit candles, flowers, T-shirts and blue-and-white pom-poms.
“The Sandusky situation is obviously horrible for the victims, and I don’t want to little that situation, but Joe Paterno’s legacy will overcome all of that,” Wrath said.
AP writer Genaro Armas and freelancer Emily Kaplan in State College, and AP college football writer Ralph Russo in New York, contributed to this story.