STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Former Penn State coach Joe Paterno has a treatable form of lung cancer, according to his son.
Scott Paterno said in a statement Friday that Joe Paterno, 84, is undergoing treatment and that "his doctors are optimistic he will make a full recovery."
"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 in a brief statement.
The announcement came less than an hour after Penn State said the NCAA would examine how school officials handled a child sex-abuse scandal that shocked the campus and cost Paterno a job he held 46 years.
Scott Paterno said the diagnosis was made during a follow-up visit last weekend for a bronchial illness. The Citizens Voice of Wilkes-Barre reported that Paterno had been seen Wednesday visiting the Mount Nittany Medical Center and was treated for an undisclosed ailment.
Paterno was fired last week in the aftermath of accusations against former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky, who is charged with sexually abusing eight boys over a period of 15 years. Critics say Paterno should have done more to stop the abuse detailed in a grand jury report.
Paterno initially announced his retirement effective at the end of the season, but university trustees fired him Nov. 9.
NCAA president Mark Emmert said in the letter to Penn State president Rod Erickson that the governing body for college sports will look at "Penn State's exercise of institutional control over its intercollegiate athletics programs."
Emmert said the case is not yet a formal investigation, though the inquiry could lead to that. Emmert has asked the university to respond by Dec. 16 to several questions. If the NCAA decides to move ahead from there, the process could take an additional six to 10 months.
"Everyone that works inside a university, a coach, an administrator, a faculty member is first an educator and mentor," Emmert said. "When you're in that position, you have a responsibility to provide leadership and maintain a high ethical standard."
Athletic director Tim Curley has been placed on administrative leave, and vice president Gary Schultz, who was in charge of the university's police department, has retired. Schultz and Curley each are charged with lying to the grand jury and failure to report to police. They maintain their innocence, as does Sandusky.
Acting athletic director Dave Joyner, who had been formally introduced earlier Friday, promised change, and faculty members called for an independent investigation into how the university handled allegations of child sexual abuse.
The faculty Senate endorsed a resolution asking for an investigation to be led by a committee whose chair has no links to Penn State. The resolution also called for a majority of the group's members to have never been affiliated with the school.
Penn State has faced criticism since announcing an internal investigation would be led by two university trustees, Merck pharmaceutical company CEO Kenneth Frazier and state Education Secretary Ronald Tomalis.