Pacino will portray the late Brooklyn-born coach who died last year during the height of a sex abuse scandal that rocked the sports-driven Pennsylvania university. Paterno came under fire after independent investigations showed that leaders of the university's athletic program did not thoroughly follow through on reports that retired coach Jerry Sandusky had been molesting boys on the campus for years.
Sandusky was recently found guilty on 45 counts of sexual abuse. Penn State's football team has faced numerous sanctions from NCAA, and the school also removed a statue of Paterno, a beloved figure at the university, after citing it as a point of controversy. Paterno's football wins dating back to 1998 were also stripped from the record following the scandal.
The film, which is being developed under the title "Happy Valley," is based on the 2012 book "Paterno" by Joe Posnanski. Producer Edward R. Pressman optioned the book, with Dave McKenna ("American History X") in negotiations to pen the screenplay.
Pacino also recently appeared on Broadway in The Merchant of Venice. "Happy Valley" will mark the third screen collaboration between De Palma and Pacino, following "Scarface" (1983) and "Carlito's Way" (1993).