Penn St details plan to mark Paterno debut; alums return

    Penn State detailed plans Thursday to mark the 50th anniversary of Joe Paterno’s first win as hundreds of the late coach’s former players made their way back to State College for a private reunion, marking a milestone that has emerged as a sensitive issue for the university and people critical of Paterno’s role in the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.

    Athletic director Sandy Barbour said Thursday that commemorations during Penn State’s game Saturday against Temple would focus on Paterno’s commitment to student-athletes and academic, plus highlights of the 1966 game.

    The statement did not mention the scandal or address the backlash that sparked immediately after the athletic department announced before the season started that it would formally honor the anniversary.

    Paterno coached at Penn State for 46 seasons, becoming college football’s winningest coach. But the coach was fired by the school’s board of trustees shortly after Sandusky, who was his defensive coordinator, was arrested in November 2011 for child sexual abuse. Paterno died in January 2012 of lung cancer.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.