N.C.A.A. Reaches Deal to Restore Wins for Joe Paterno and Penn State
Amid the child-molesting scandal at Penn State, Joe Paterno lost his job, more than 100 victories as a coach and his reputation as a kind of football Renaissance man. Even a statue of him outside the university’s stadium was removed.
But nearly three years after Mr. Paterno’s death at age 85, his reputation is experiencing something of a revival.
On Friday, as part of a settlement in a lawsuit filed by Pennsylvania officials, the N.C.A.A. agreed to restore 111 victories that it had rescinded from Mr. Paterno after the scandal, in which a former longtime assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky, was found to have sexually molested boys. With his record of 409-136-3, built from 1966 until he was fired in disgrace near the end of the 2011 season, Mr. Paterno again becomes the major-college football coach with the most victories.
Fund-raising is also continuing for a statue of Mr. Paterno in downtown State College, Pa., in which he would appear seated and reading Virgil’s “Aeneid,” his favorite poem.
And some alumni predicted on Friday that there would be a renewed effort to restore the statue outside Beaver Stadium of Mr. Paterno, wearing his familiar glasses, coat, tie and high-water pants, and raising his index finger in a sign that his team was No. 1.
It will be left to others to decide whether Friday’s decision fully restores Mr. Paterno’s reputation, said his son Jay, a former assistant coach at Penn State.
“It’s never been about the wins,” Jay Paterno said in a telephone interview. “What’s important is that the reputation of Penn State and the athletic department and the football program was damaged, and this is going to help.”
Ted Sebastianelli, 67, who played for Mr. Paterno in the 1960s and is organizing fund-raising for the downtown statue of his former coach, echoed many Penn State supporters when he said the N.C.A.A. had overreached in a 2012 consent decree that imposed a $60 million fine on the university, a four-year ban from bowl games, a temporary reduction in football scholarships and the removal of more than 100 victories.
Referring to Mark Emmert, president of the N.C.A.A., Mr. Sebastianelli said: “Everyone knows we won those games. For Emmert to take them away is a vindictive act. I’m very happy. Joe deserves to be the winningest coach in college football, without question.”
Charles Benjamin Jr., 59, who played at Penn State in the mid-1970s, said he hoped that Mr. Paterno’s reputation had been restored “to a large degree.”
“It ought to be,” Mr. Benjamin said. “I’m happy this wrong has been righted. When all this happened, things were almost in a hysterical state. Cooler minds are now prevailing.”
At the Berkey Creamery in the university’s Food Science Building, where Peachy Paterno ice cream has remained a favorite, an increase in sales was expected after the decision Friday to restore Mr. Paterno’s victories, Tom Palchak, manager of the creamery, said.
“I think these actions were punitive to him on a personal level,” Mr. Palchak said of the N.C.A.A. penalties.
“The Penn State community was not going to let go of this until he received justice.”
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