Paterno recovering from hip surgery, Penn St. expecting his return on Dec. 1

Updated: November 24, 2008, 1:55 AM ET
Associated Press

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Penn State coach Joe Paterno had successful hip replacement surgery Sunday, a day after the Nittany Lions clinched the Big Ten title and a trip to the Rose Bowl.

The 81-year-old coach was expected to get back on his feet Monday following the procedure at Mount Nittany Medical Center, the team said in a statement. Dr. Wayne Sebastianelli, the school's director of athletic medicine, led the surgical team.

[+] EnlargeJoe Paterno
Joe Sargent/Getty ImagesJoe Paterno expects to recover in time for the Rose Bowl and reiterated after Saturday's game that he intends to return in 2009.

"Dr. Sebastianelli reports that all objectives were accomplished and that Paterno is resting comfortably and anxious to get home," the statement said.

Paterno is expected to resume coaching on Dec. 1, when players return to school following Thanksgiving break.

He said Saturday after the 49-18 win over Michigan State that he planned to return in 2009. It was the Hall of Famer's 383rd career win, most among major college coaches.

Paterno suffered his injury while demonstrating an onside kick two days before the season opener on Aug. 30 against Coastal Carolina.

He spent the first three games pacing the sideline in his familiar khakis and black sneakers, though the pain appeared to get worse after coaching on the artificial turf of the Carrier Dome in a Sept. 13 win at Syracuse.

Paterno has coached from the press box full-time since Oct. 6. He uses a golf cart to get around practice, and a cane when he needs to walk around the stadium.

It's unclear whether Paterno will be healthy enough to return to the sideline for the Rose Bowl, though he has vowed he will remain active in bowl preparations.

"I'm certainly going to be involved one way or another, if I have to walk around with a cane for a month," Paterno said last Tuesday.

Asked later if anticipated staying in the press box beyond a bowl game, Paterno answered without hesitation, "Oh no, I want to get back on the field. I expect to be back on the field."

Paterno is also without a contract after this season, though both he and the school president have said he doesn't need one to stay on the job. He said Saturday he never planned to leave, and that he just needs to work out details about the future with administrators.

"He never said anything to us about it being his last game," receiver Deon Butler said. "He is such a fixture around here I don't think anyone thinks about it."

No. 6 Penn State (11-1, 7-1) won its first conference title since 2005, and is slated to make its first trip to Pasadena since the 1995 Rose Bowl.


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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