STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – Coach Joe Paterno is fighting for his job amid a widening sex-abuse scandal and possible cover-up centered on former assistant and onetime heir apparent Jerry Sandusky.

Paterno’s regularly scheduled news conference was abruptly canceled Tuesday by a university spokesman who cited “ongoing legal circumstances.” He was referring to charges announced over the weekend that Sandusky molested eight young boys between 1994 and 2009, and that two PSU administrators who have since resigned failed to notify authorities of a 2002 incident reported by an eyewitness.

Hundreds of fans staged a raucous rally outside Paterno’s home Tuesday evening. He appeared briefly, along with some family members, and thanked the crowd for coming.

“I’ve lived for this place. I’ve lived for people like you guys and girls. It’s hard for me to say how much this means,” the 84-year-old coach said. “As you know, the kids that were the victims, I think we ought to say a prayer for them.”

Asked if he was still the coach, Paterno didn’t answer, but a young woman who stood with her arm around him replied: “Now is not the time.”

Paterno’s son, Scott, said his father was disappointed over the decision by PSU President Graham Spanier to cancel the news conference. Addressing reporters outside his parents’ house, Scott Paterno said his father was prepared to answer questions about Sandusky — who maintains he is innocent — and that he plans to coach not only Saturday’s game against Nebraska, but for the long haul.

Earlier in the day, Paterno stepped out of a silver sedan being driven by his wife, Sue, and headed to the team practice. At one corner of the facility, team managers hastily put plywood boards over an exposed fence to block photographers’ view of the field.

At the spontaneous rally at his house, Paterno held his fists over his head three times and said, “We are …” And the crowd replied, “Penn State!”

“We’re always going to be Penn State,” Paterno said. “I’m proud of you. I’ve always been proud of you. Beat Nebraska.”

Paterno, who earned about $1.02 million last year from the school, has been head coach for 46 years and part of the Penn State staff for more than six decades. His old-school values pervade every corner of the program.