As reports circulated that Joe Paterno was gravely ill, a family spokesman said in a statement Saturday night that doctors are now characterizing his condition as "serious."

The winningest coach in major college football history has been battling lung cancer and was described in a recent interview as being wheelchair-bound and wearing a wig as a result of radiation and chemotherapy treatments.

Several Pennsylvania outlets, including The Citizens' Voice newspaper, have reported that friends and family were being called to the State College hospital where Paterno has been undergoing cancer treatments.

In a statement issued to The Associated Press, Paterno family spokesman Dan McGinn said the former coach "experienced further health complications" over the past few days and that "doctors have now characterized his status as serious."

Paterno, 85, won 409 games at Penn State but was fired by trustees in November in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child-sex abuse case.