Pennsylvania State University succeeded in restoring the 111 wins vacated from its record as punishment for former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky’s sexual abuse despite claims earlier this week that no deal was in the works. The reversal once again makes head coach Joe Paterno the winningest coach in college football history.
The NCAA removed the long list of wins from Penn State’s record after assistant coach Jerry Sandusky’s convictions on charges of sexually abusing a minor on campus grounds.
The punishment bumped Paterno from college football’s all-time winningest coach down to 12th on the list. Other punishments included the school’s disqualification from bowl games and scholarship reductions for players. The school also had to pay a $60 million fine on top of the nearly $60 million in settlements it had already paid out to victims.
When the punishment was originally imposed many Pennsylvanians and college alums felt it was too harsh and some even doubted that the NCAA had the power to levy such penalties Lawsuits were threatened and at least one was even in the works.
With the dissatisfaction growing, it was rumored earlier this week that the school was negotiating with the NCAA, college football’s governing body, to scale back some of the harsh punishments levied on the university. Still, on Monday Chairman of Penn State’s Board of Trustees Keith Masser denied that any negotiations were taking place.
Now, only days after that denial, the NCAA has announced that a deal has indeed been reached and the Paterno wins are being restored to Penn State’s record.
As reported earlier, the new deal with the NCAA will also direct that the $60 million in fines go to address child abuse within the state of Pennsylvania, a move that will make the pending lawsuit unnecessary.
These new developments are in addition to the announcement made last September that the NCAA was putting an early end to some of the school’s punishments, including the postseason-play prohibition.
At that time, Penn State’s athletics integrity monitor, former U.S. Senator George Mitchell, said, “In light of Penn State’s responsiveness to its obligations and the many improvements it has instituted, I believe these student-athletes should have the opportunity to play in the postseason should they earn it on the field this year.”
While the Paterno family said this Friday that the restoration of the wins put an end to the “scapegoating” of the coach, not everyone is happy with the move.
“To completely restore, in a sense, Joe Paterno’s heretofore pristine reputation, I regret that,” Michael Boni, a lawyer for one of the victims, said on Friday. “He did a world of good, but he made a huge, huge error in judgment in helping cover up Sandusky’s pedophilia, and even posthumously I think that has to be recognized.”
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