NCAA Announces It Will Restore Joe Paterno’s Wins At Penn State

Coach Joe Paterno (C), being carried by the Penn State Football team after defeating Miami in the Festa Bowl.  (Photo by Mickey Pfleger/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)

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Coach Joe Paterno (C), being carried by the Penn State Football team after defeating Miami in the Festa Bowl. (Photo by Mickey Pfleger/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)

In a historic reversal of the sanctions it levied on Penn State following the Jerry Sandusky scandal, the NCAA has announced that it will be restoring iconic head coach Joe Paterno’s 111 wins. The wins would include 111 under Paterno before he passed away in 2012 and Penn State’s final victory in 2011 under defensive coach Tom Bradley, returning Paterno’s record to 409-136-3, making him the winning-ess coach in college football history.

Harrisburg’s Patriot News explains why.

A proposed settlement has been reached that will restore 111 wins by teams under legendary football coach Joe Paterno and one win by Tom Bradley that were wiped from the record books by the sanctions imposed by the NCAA in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal.

The announcement was made by the NCAA, moments before state Sen. Jake Corman was scheduled to make an announcement regarding his lawsuit against the NCAA. The lawsuit, originally an attempt to keep the $60 fine the NCAA imposed on Penn State in Pennsylvania, has become a case testing the validity of the penalties imposed by the NCAA.

Those penalties include the $60 million fine and the vacation of 112 victories earned by the football team between 1998 and 2011. It also included a ban on bowl games and scholarship reductions that have since been lifted.

If you haven’t followed the various lawsuits closely (usually only reported in local Pennsylvania papers and blogs), this is probably pretty confusing to an arm-chair sports fan. A lot of it stems from the NCAA exerting its power into a situation it legally had no right to exert itself into. The gist: The rule of law > a sports rule governing body. The goal of the lawsuit was to make sure that the $60 million fine Penn State paid the NCAA went to child abuse organizations within the state of Pennsylvania. Some speculate that the current lawsuit would have been a crucial blow the NCAA as a whole, causing the organization’s e-mails to be subpoenaed (and thus, made public record) causing all of its dirty secrets to come to light. Hence the settlement. In 2013, Deadspin’s Dom Cosentino summed up the case against the sanction, as awful and horrific as Jerry Sandusky’s crimes were:

No, the “goal” here was really for the NCAA to exert its own self-proclaimed moral authority into a situation into which it had no jurisdiction. The sanctions were never about any of that crap Emmert had some flack fart onto a page for him; they were the NCAA’s way of showing everyone it’s got a handle on the matter, that it’s doing something about the scourge of a university “culture” that had the audacity to put “football first.” But that “football first” “culture” remains alive and well at campuses throughout the country, and the NCAA remains one of its chief enablers and beneficiaries. And now, by giving back some of the scholarships it had no business taking away in the first place, the NCAA wants us to believe it is doing so to provide “additional education opportunities.” This is the twisted logic of an organization that increasingly needs a reason to exist.

I think it’s important to note that this doesn’t exonerate Paterno from the situation or offer validation of the coach, though certainly many cultish Penn State types will certainly take it as such. This is the NCAA circling the wagons and protecting their ass from having to reveal information that could cause it to implode. That is all. The perceived inaction in the Scandal (or not, depending on what side of the argument you’re on) remains.