Pennsylvania State University plans a special commemoration later this month marking the 50th anniversary of the late Joe Paterno's first game as head football coach, the school said on Thursday, nearly five years after he was fired over a child sex abuse scandal.
The planned event is the latest indication that Penn State officials are still committed to some extent to honoring the athletic legacy of Paterno, the winningest coach ever in major U.S. college football. The school removed a statue of him in 2012, but a library at the campus still bears his name.
Penn State trustees in 2011 fired Paterno from his position as head coach after disclosures that he knew of assistant coach Jerry Sandusky sexually abusing a young boy in the school's locker room showers in 2002 but failed to notify police.
Instead, Paterno said he informed the university's athletic director, who told other administrators without ever going to authorities.
The Penn State football program, in a statement posted online, said its Sept. 17 home game against Temple University will feature activities to "commemorate Joe Paterno's first game as the head football coach at Penn State" in 1966.
It would be the first planned public event honoring Paterno since his 2011 dismissal, according to PA Media Group's PennLive.com, the website for the Harrisburg Patriot-News. He died of cancer in 2012 at age 85.
A representative for the Penn State athletic program could not be reached for comment late on Thursday.
Jennifer Storm, the state of Pennsylvania's official victim advocate, said in a statement that the plan to commemorate Paterno's 50th anniversary was "insensitive," according to NBC News.
Penn State's entire football program was rocked by fallout from the 2011 indictment charging Sandusky with 40 criminal counts of molesting several boys from 1994 to 2009. It has since been alleged that Paterno and other university officials knew or should have known of incidents of abuse dating back to 1998.
Sandusky, 72, is serving a prison sentence of 30 to 60 years after a jury convicted him in 2012 of molesting 10 boys.
Court documents unsealed in July implicated Paterno in an earlier case of child sexual abuse - indicating that he had ignored the complaint of a 14-year-old boy who told him in 1976 of having been sexually assaulted by Sandusky.
HIGHEST-PAID COLLEGE FOOTBALL COACHES:
The highest-paid college football coaches of 2016
The highest-paid college football coaches of 2016
10. James Franklin, Penn State – $4.4 million
Penn State hired James Franklin away from Vanderbilt in 2014 after their former head coach, Bill O’Brien, left the college ranks behind to become the head coach of the Houston Texans. Judging by the hefty contract he received, the Penn State administration thinks extremely highly of Franklin’s abilities as a football coach.
In his two seasons of guiding the Nittany Lions, Franklin has posted a 14-12 overall record with two bowl game appearances. More importantly though, he has helped revive the program and started convincing big-time recruits that the future is bright in State College, Penn.
(Joe Robbins via Getty Images)
9. Dabo Swinney, Clemson – $4.55 million
Dabo Swinney is hands down one of the most polarizing personalities in all of college football. And it just so happens that he is an excellent coach, too. Since being promoted to the full-time head coach at Clemson in 2009, Swinney has led the Tigers to an overall record of 71-24, two ACC titles, and an appearance in the 2015 College Football Playoff National Championship Game. As a result, Clemson rewarded Swinney with a contract extension this spring that makes him one of the highest-paid college football coaches in the country.
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8. Hugh Freeze, Ole Miss – $4.7 million
When Hugh Freeze took over at Ole Miss in 2012, he inherited a program that was coming off of a disastrous 2-10 season in 2011. He was able to quickly turn things around in Oxford, Miss., going 7-6 in his first year on the job.
In the three seasons after that, he’s led the Rebels to a 27-12 record. He has guided the program to bowl games in every year he has held the job, and he was rewarded with a contract extension this January. Looking forward, 2016 has a chance to be a special season (barring any NCAA sanctions following Laramy Tunsil’s draft day meltdown) for the Rebels with a Heisman Trophy candidate under center in Chad Kelly.
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7. Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M – $5 million
Texas A&M hired Kevin Sumlin away from the University of Houston in 2012, and the 51-year-old coach instantly turned the Aggies into one of the most exciting teams in the country to watch. Under Sumlin, Texas A&M has emerged as an offensive juggernaut and a place where NFL scouts go to find high-quality talent. With that being said, Sumlin will undoubtedly start to feel the heat if the Aggies do not improve in the win/loss column in 2016.
(Scott Halleran via Getty Images)
6. Charlie Strong, Texas – $5,100,270
Texas hired Charlie Strong away from Louisville to take over for longtime head coach Mack Brown back in 2014. At the time of his hiring, Strong was one of the fastest rising coaches in the business, but his time in Austin hasn’t exactly gone as planned.
To be fair, Strong did go in and clean house during his first two seasons on the job. Nevertheless, his two-year record at Texas is 11-14, which means that he is firmly entrenched in the hot seat entering the 2016 season.
(Cooper Neill via Getty Images)
5. Jimbo Fisher, Florida State – $5.15 million
Taking over for a legend is never an easy task, but Jimbo Fisher has made it look extremely easy. Since taking over for Bobby Bowden in 2010, Fisher has led the Seminoles to a 68-14 overall record, three ACC titles, one national title, and one appearance in the College Football Playoff.
Knowing this, it should come as no surprise that the 50-year-old coach is among the highest-paid coaches in the country. His recently signed contract extension runs through the 2022 season and could be worth as much as $44 million in total.
(Joe Robbins via Getty Images)
4. Bob Stoops, Oklahoma – $5.4 million
Bob Stoops is currently tied with Kirk Ferentz of Iowa as the longest tenured Football Bowl Subdivision head coaches in the country. In his 17 seasons on the job at Oklahoma, Stoops has put together a Hall of Fame-caliber career.
With a career record of 179-46, Stoops has led the Sooners to nine Big 12 championships and one national championship, won multiple Coach of the Year awards, coached two Heisman Trophy winners, and led his teams to bowl games in every season he has held the position. With a resume like that, it’s no wonder that Stoops is one of the most handsomely paid coaches in college football history.
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3. Urban Meyer, Ohio State – $5.86 million
Very few coaches have ever achieved the kind of success Urban Meyer has enjoyed over the course of his career. Every program he has been in charge of has reached new heights under his guidance, and he has proven to be one of the best in the business when it comes to developing NFL-caliber talent.
Since taking over at The Ohio State University in 2012, all Meyer has done is lead the Buckeyes to a 50-4 overall record, one national title, one Big Ten title, and three New Year’s Day bowl games. He is one of the highest-paid coaches in college football, and he has been worth every penny to Ohio State.
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2. Jim Harbaugh, Michigan – $7.004 million
Simply put, Jim Harbaugh is unlike any other coach in college football. He has a huge personality, does things his own way, and demands excellence out of his players and his coaching staff. More notably, though, he is a flat-out winner. In just one year, Harbaugh has taken Michigan from being a mediocre team in the Big Ten to a legitimate national title contender and a force to be reckoned with on the recruiting trail.
For Michigan, landing Harbuagh wasn’t cheap — despite the fact that he played quarterback in Ann Arbor from 1983–86. But when it comes down to it, he has already proven to be well worth his enormous contract.
(Christian Petersen via Getty Images)
1. Nick Saban, Alabama – $7.09 million
The bottom line here is that Nick Saban is the gold standard in today’s college football coaching landscape. Back in 2007, he took over a dormant Alabama program and has since turned the Crimson Tide into a bona fide college football dynasty.
Saban’s program is currently on one of the greatest runs in college football history, posting a 105-18 overall record with four national titles, four SEC titles, and two Heisman Trophy winners in nine years. Needless to say, Alabama has seen and incredible return on their massive investment in Saban.