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Penn State to formally honor Joe Paterno on Sept. 17

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Penn Statesaid Thursday it will formally honor former head coach Joe Paterno, who was fired in 2011 amid the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal, during the team's game Sept. 17 against Temple.

The school will commemorate the 50th anniversary of Paterno's first game as head coach, which came against Maryland on Sept. 17, 1966, and resulted in a 15-7 win.

A spokesperson declined to comment on the specifics of the commemoration, saying only that more details will be released on the Thursday prior to the game.

Penn State athletic director Sandy Barbour also declined to comment. As did Nittany Lions coach James Franklin, who also was not asked about the decision on his weekly radio show Thursday night.

Paterno finished his career as the winningest coach in FBS history (409 victories), but he was fired in November 2011, shortly after Sandusky, who was his defensive coordinator, was arrested for child sexual abuse.

Paterno died in January 2012 of lung cancer.

In May, unsealed court documents said an alleged Sandusky victim said he complained to Paterno about Sandusky in 1976 and was rebuffed. The university's president has said the allegation was not substantiated in court or tested by any other process.

Paterno was never charged with a crime related to the scandal.

Sandusky was convicted on 45 of 48 charges in June 2012 and is serving a 30- to 60-year sentence.

Moving forward from the scandal has proved a difficult challenge for Penn State, requiring leaders to balance distancing the university from the scandal while juggling the wishes of ardent Penn State supporters who credit Paterno for giving the university an identity to be proud of.

The statue of Paterno was removed from outside Beaver Stadium on July 22, 2012, and highly visible, university-sponsored signs of him are mostly hard to find. Paterno's name is still on the campus library, which was built in part by his donations.

The Paterno Foundation already had scheduled a private celebration of the 50th anniversary of Paterno's first game as head coach with a Football Lettermen's reunion on Sept. 16 at Lubrano Park in State College. Penn State alum and university trustee Anthony Lubrano has been part of a group of Paterno supporters who have been pushing for the school to officially recognize the anniversary.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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