On Saturday evening, reports of Joe Paterno's passing were erroneously published here and elsewhere. It was a deeply regrettable situation and one that demands an explanation. As the editor on duty, it was my responsibility to determine what was published and when, and that included updates on Paterno's health.
The initial story was published under Andy Hutchins' byline, after he wrote the background and the basis of the post. As the news broke and began circulating rapidly, I edited his post -- attributing the reports to the initial sources -- and published it. His name was on it, but it was my own decision to publish it, citing the reports available at the time.
Before publishing, we waited for multiple reports from national outlets. The reports spread to numerous trusted sources, sparking our own decision to publish a post as a result. It was based not on our own reporting, but on the reporting of others.
As we later found out, Paterno had not passed away and continues to battle for his life. By the time a family spokesman released a statement denying the reports, word had already spread like wildfire, though various forms of social media and online, in posts including the one here at SB Nation.
The decision to publish the post was in error. We should have waited for official word from the Paterno family. With the speed at which stories move and advance, decisions have to be made in a split-second, and the decision I made was wrong. There's no excuse for it, and I take full responsibility.
Most of all, the Paterno family and Penn State community deserve an apology. The emotional rollercoaster Penn State fans, students and alumni were taken on was unfair, and we contributed to it. Paterno's family is dealing with an incredibly difficult situation at the moment, and the whirlwind of activity and reports only served to compound their own crisis.