The most winning coach in major-college football history dies following a battle with lung cancer.

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (TheStreet) -- Former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno died Sunday at age 85. He had been undergoing treatment for lung cancer.

The man affectionately known as "JoePa" won more games than any other major-college football coach and was known for his good sportsmanship, but his career ended amid a sexual abuse scandal that rocked Penn State and its football program.

After the team's former defensive coordinator, Jerry Sandusky, was arrested on charges of sexually abusing eight boys over 15 years, Paterno announced on Nov. 9 that he would retire at the end of the 2011 season.

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But concerned about the escalating scandal, Penn State's trustees voted to fire Paterno that night, and they also fired Penn State University President Graham Spanier.

Less than 10 days after Paterno announced his retirement, his son Scott said publicly that his father had been diagnosed with a treatable form of lung cancer, the AP noted. Soon afterward, Paterno broke his pelvis following a fall but did not undergo surgery, the news agency added.



AP In this Nov. 14, 2009, file photo, Penn State coach Joe Paterno walks the sideline during warm-ups before an NCAA college football game against Indiana.

Since Jan. 13, Paterno had been under observation in the hospital for what his family said were minor complications from cancer treatments, the AP noted.

Paterno's family released a statement Sunday morning announcing his death, saying: "His loss leaves a void in our lives that will never be filled."

"He died as he lived," the statement said. "He fought hard until the end, stayed positive, thought only of others and constantly reminded everyone of how blessed his life had been. His ambitions were far reaching, but he never believed he had to leave this Happy Valley to achieve them. He was a man devoted to his family, his university, his players and his community."

Paterno took the helm of Penn State's football program in 1966 and won 409 games, including two national championships.

When he announced his resignation, Paterno had said he was devastated by the developments in the sexual abuse case.

"My goals now are to keep my commitments to my players and staff and finish the season with dignity and determination," Paterno had said, in a statement. "And then I will spend the rest of my life doing everything I can to help this university."

But Paterno came under fire when it emerged that he hadn't gone to state or federal authorities after a graduate assistant, Mike McQueary, told him in 2002 that he had seen Sandusky with a young boy in the football complex's showers.

According to a grand jury investigation report, Paterno told the university's athletic director the next day about the incident. He also notified the official in charge of the University Police.

In his only interview following his firing, Paterno told The Washington Post, "I didn't know which way to go ... and rather than get in there and make a mistake. ... You know, (McQueary) didn't want to get specific."