The biggest number in the NCAA’s heavy punishment of Penn State’s football program in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal is the $60 million fine.
But for the players who suited up for the Nittany Lions from 1998 to 2012 and their coaches, the vacating of 112 wins — 111 under iconic coach Joe Paterno — is far more severe.
Over that 15-year span, the Nittany Lions played in 10 bowl games, winning six. Each of those wins are now wiped from the record books along with two Big 10 conference titles. Suddenly, players who won trophies and championship rings for their storied program will see their time in State College tagged with an asterisk and a record devoid of wins.
And one day after his statue was removed from its place outside Beaver Stadium, Paterno is no longer the winningest coach in Division 1 football history. Paterno dropped from 409 to 298 wins. He is now just the 12th-winningest coach in college football history, and is replaced atop the Division 1 ladder by former Grambling coach Eddie Robinson (408 wins). Florida State coach Bobby Bowden is second with 377 wins. Current St. John’s (Minn.) coach John Gagliardi is the winningest college football coach across all classifications with 484 wins and counting.
The NCAA also announced Monday that is has revoked Paterno’s 2011 Gerald R. Ford leadership award, as reported by MLive.com. The honor is given to individuals who have “provided significant leadership as an advocate for intercollegiate athletics on a continuous basis during the course of their career.”
At a news conference to announce the penalties, NCAA president Mark Emmert explained that the period of vacated wins was selected to coincide with the findings of the extensive and damning Freeh report. Emmert did not comment on the impact the vacated wins might have on Paterno’s legacy.
“That was the point of time from which one can make an argument that the failures began inside the institution,” Emmert said of the 1998 season. “I’ll leave what it says about individuals for others to speculate on.”
For the hundreds of players who compiled those wins for the Nittany Lions, digesting the magnitude of the scandal that continues to rock their university remains a challenging ordeal. Washington Redskins running back Evan Royster (2006-’10) was one of several players struggling to assess what the NCAA penalties mean for his career at Penn State.
ah crap... so i lost every college football game i ever played in?— Evan Royster (@Evan_Royster) July 23, 2012
@Jamw25 I’m ok with it. I can see where child abuse victims would c it as disrespectful for PSU to honor man that may of helpdconceale abuse— Jordan Norwood (@jordaNorwood) July 23, 2012
More to come....
Document: Penn State’s NCAA sanctions
Campus Overload: Paterno library keeps its name
Sally Jenkins: The truth is, Joe Paterno lied