Joe Paterno's doctors say the former Penn State coach's condition has become "serious" after he experienced complications from lung cancer in recent days.
Paterno was diagnosed shortly after Penn State's Board of Trustees ousted him Nov. 9 in the aftermath of the child sex abuse charges against former assistant Jerry Sandusky. Paterno has been getting treatment since, and his health problems were worsened when he broke his pelvis -- an injury that first cropped up when he was accidentally hit in preseason practice last year.
"Over the last few days Joe Paterno has experienced further health complications," family spokesman Dan McGinn said in a brief statement Saturday to The Associated Press. "His doctors have now characterized his status as serious.
"His family will have no comment on the situation and asks that their privacy be respected during this difficult time," he said.
Paterno's sons Scott and Jay both took to Twitter on Saturday night to refute reports that their father had died.
Wrote Jay Paterno: "I appreciate the support (and) prayers. Joe is continuing to fight."
Joe Paterno, 85, has been in the hospital since Jan. 13 for observation for what his family had called minor complications from his cancer treatments. Not long before that, he spoke with the Washington Post in his only interview since losing his job. He was described as frail then and wearing a wig. The second half of the two-day interview was conducted by his bedside.
The Citizens' Voice reported that Joe Paterno's wife, Sue, had asked that extended family, close friends and longtime staff members come to see him Saturday afternoon for a final time at State College Hospital.
The newspaper reported that Jay Paterno canceled an appearance in Reading, Pa., telling organizers 15 minutes before the scheduled start that he would not be able to make it because "his wife" was sick.
Joe Paterno, the winningest coach in major college football history with 409 victories, had spent 61 years at the university, where he won two national championships and registered five undefeated seasons.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.