PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - The late Joe Paterno was restored as the winningest coach in major college football on Friday after the NCAA settled a lawsuit with two elected state officials and returned the victories wiped out during the Jerry Sandusky child sex scandal.
The NCAA agreed to restore 112 wins - 111 of which were Paterno’s - to Penn State’s record.
“Today is a victory for the Penn State nation,” said state Senator Jake Corman, who represents the area surrounding the school’s main campus. “The NCAA has surrendered.”
The governing body of U.S. college sports had voided Penn State’s football victories for 14 seasons as part of a package of sanctions to punish the school for failing to stop the abuse by Sandusky, an assistant coach on Paterno’s staff.
Reinstating the victories restores Paterno’s record as the head coach with the most wins in big-time U.S. college football history.
The NCAA’s board of governors approved the settlement, said NCAA spokesman Bob Williams, while the Penn State board accepted it Friday afternoon.
Penn State officials were accused of not taking action after being alerted that Sandusky was sexually abusing children, sometimes in the locker room showers.
The scandal led to Paterno, who won two national titles and had been one of the most revered figures in college football, being fired along with other top school officials shortly after the scandal broke in November 2011. He died of lung cancer a little more than two months later at age 85.
Sandusky, 70, is serving 30 to 60 years in prison after being convicted of molesting 10 boys.
Corman sued the NCAA with State Treasurer Rob McCord over a $60 million penalty imposed on the university for child abuse prevention. McCord and Corman wanted the money spent in the state and Friday’s settlement clears the way for this.
The Corman-McCord lawsuit morphed into a broader challenge over whether the NCAA had the authority to punish the university.
At a news conference in Harrisburg, Corman said the settlement repeals the sanctions imposed on the university because of the scandal.
In addition to the $60 million penalty, Penn State was banned from post-season games for four years and had the number of scholarships for players reduced to 15 from 25.
At the time the sanctions were imposed in July 2012, Mark Emmert, president of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, said Penn State had put “hero worship and winning at all costs” ahead of integrity, honesty and responsibility.
Additional reporting by Steve Ginsburg; Editing by Barbara Goldberg, Bill Trott and Eric Walsh