by William Rutledge
In 2011, news came out that multiple children were sexually assaulted in locker rooms at the Pennsylvania State University. The perpetrator of the crimes was Jerry Sandusky, assistant football coach and long-time Penn State employee. Sandusky was arrested and sentenced, now serving his time in Greene State Prison.
The University was forced to fire Head Coach Joe Paterno, and the football team was barred from postseason play for two years. Penn State was fined 60 million dollars and assigned a third-party monitor, George Mitchell, to ensure that the sanctions were followed.
Most controversial of the sanctions was the elimination of 112 of Penn State’s victories from 1998-2011, all but one led by Paterno, once the winningest coach in the history of college football.
Many believed the vacated wins were warranted because Paterno did not act on his knowledge of Sandusky’s crimes. Others argued that that the punishment was too strict because the play on the field was not affected and none of the players on the team were involved or aware of the situation.
The conversation started heating up again last October when a sign reading “409,” Paterno’s total career wins, appeared in downtown Happy Valley. 15,000 students and Penn State fans signed it to urge the NCAA to restore Paterno’s wins.
State Senator Jake Corman and State Treasurer Rob McCord brought the case back to the NCAA. Mitchell’s positive reports detailing Penn State’s cooperation following the sanctions and increasing pressure from Penn State supporters contributed to the final decision to restore 112 wins to the program.
The school still has to pay the 60 million dollar fine, which is all being donated to victims of child and sexual abuse in Pennsylvania.
“I know that all Penn State alumni will be gratified to see these 112 wins restored,” Penn State President Eric Barron said in a statement. “These wins belong to the student-athletes, Coach Paterno and his staff, who represented Penn State both in the classroom and on the football field.”
Joe Paterno is once again the winningest coach in the history of college football with 409 Division 1 wins.
Pitt-Greensburg basketball coach Sean Strickland said, “Bottom line is those wins happened. So I’m happy for the players, coaches, and staff that put so much work into winning those games on the field of play.”