HOUSTON (AP) – Former President George H.W. Bush says he was “deeply saddened” by the death of his friend, ex-Penn State football coach Joe Paterno.

The 85-year-old died Sunday from lung cancer. In a statement Bush called Paterno “an outstanding American who was respected not only on the field of play but in life generally.”

The nation’s 41st president says the coach was “a true icon in the world of sports” and he was proud they were friends.

Bush said he and his wife Barbara send their condolences to Paterno’s “devoted wife Suzanne and to his wonderful family.”

Paterno, a Republican and supporter of the elder Bush, was a sainted figure at Penn State for almost half a century.

His career was abruptly halted over how a child sex abuse scandal was handled.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)