UNIVERSITY PARK - Word of Joe Paterno's death - which proved to be incorrect - spread like wildfire on the Internet Saturday night after a Penn State student-run website first reported the false information and then had it disseminated to a worldwide audience by CBSSports.com.
Someone affiliated with OnwardState.com tweeted at about 8:45 p.m. that Paterno had died and also that football players had received an email about his passing.
Citing the Onward State report, CBSSports.com posted a story that Paterno had died.
That set off a Twitter explosion, with people across the country and around the world commenting and expressing condolences to the Paterno family. Many other media outlets spread the news, which was proven to be incorrect.
"CBS report is wrong - Dad is alive but in serious condition. We continue to ask for your prayers and privacy during this time," Joe Paterno's son Scott tweeted Saturday night shortly after 9 p.m.
Paterno's son Jay tweeted, "I appreciate the support and prayers. Joe is continuing to fight."
The 85-year-old former Penn State coach is battling lung cancer and is in serious condition, according to a family spokesman. The spokesman also told The Associated Press that the reports of Paterno's death are "not true."
The managing editor of OnwardState.com, Penn State senior Devon Edwards, issued a statement on Facebook that included a retraction of the story, an apology and his resignation.
"I never, in a million years, would have thought that Onward State would be cited by the national media, and today, I sincerely wish it never had been. To all those who read and passed along our reports, I sincerely apologize for misleading you," Edwards wrote in the Facebook message.
The founder and general manager of OnwardState.com, PSU student Davis Shaver, told the Mirror his organization will investigate "what exactly went wrong tonight" with regards to its reporting.
"It wasn't as simple as rushing to report it," Shaver said.
"Our readers have every right to hold us accountable for making such a mistake," Shaver added. "But I know that I speak for everyone with the organization when I say that reader trust is paramount for us. It is, in everything that we do, our goal."