In the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal that has rocked Penn State University to its’ core, the National Collegiate Athletic Association – the governing body of college sports – handed down sanctions against the school on Monday that included vacating all of the football teams wins from 1998 through 2011.
Penn State head coach Joe Paterno had been the NCAA’s all-time winningest coach with 409 wins, but this move strips him of 111 of them, taking his total down to 298 and restoring legendary Grambling head coach, Eddie Robinson as the all-time leader with 408.
Prior to his 409th win, many people believed that Paterno was holding on to his position just so that he could surpass Robinson and get the all-time record. Penn State had tried unsuccessfully several years earlier to get rid of Paterno, but he refused to leave despite closing in on 80 years of age and coaching 18 to 22-year-olds who sometimes had trouble relating to him.
In the days prior to Monday’s announcement, Pamela Breedlove, a city attorney in Grambling, along with Mayor Edward Jones, sent a letter to the NCAA requesting that some of Paterno’s wins be vacated. Her letter outlined the city’s position saying that Louis Freeh’s offered enough evidence that the record should be returned to Robinson.
“We just believe that you would want to associate the record with someone who had the character of coach Robinson,” Breedlove said. “Especially now that we’ve come to realize how bad things really were (at Penn State).”
Grambling University itself had taken a neutral position on the subject. However, once the NCAA sanctions were handed down, Grambling’s president, Frank G. Pogue Ph.D, (coincidentally, the former president of Edinboro University, a public university in Pennsylvania and thus familiar with the culture of Penn State), released a statement backing the NCAA on it’s decision:
“We support the NCAA's decisions regarding the sanctions against football coach Joe Paterno. We will continue to acknowledge the legendary Eddie G. Robinson as the winningest Division I football coach in American history.
“I have heard the name Eddie G. Robinson nearly all of my life. Having lived and worked for three years in the culture that Eddie G. Robinson created at Grambling and having spent more than 15 years as a university president in Penn State University’s culture and the ever-present shadow of the legendary Joe Paterno, I can easily understand the athletic greatness of Grambling State University and Penn State. It is easy to see why these two highly successful coaching giants respected each other. Because of the human being he was known to be, Eddie G. Robinson would have been the first person to express regrets about the tragedies that occurred at Penn State that led to the removal of Joe Paterno as head football coach of the Nittany Lions, and we at Grambling State University deeply respect the decision of the NCAA to strip Penn State of its wins from 1998 through 2011.
“We are proud that Coach Eddie Robinson will remain the winningest Division I football coach in the history of college football.”