Paterno to receive NCAA's Gerald R. Ford Award for being role model

December 22, 2010

Indianapolis -- Penn State football Coach Joe Paterno has been named the winner of the 2011 NCAA President’s Gerald R. Ford Award.
NCAA President Mark Emmert will present the award to Paterno on Jan. 13, 2011 at the NCAA Convention in San Antonio, Texas.

"I am honored to present this award to coach Paterno,” Emmert said. “His ‘total-person’ approach to student-athletes, emphasizing academics and personal accountability is a terrific example of everything the NCAA stands for. Coach Paterno has distinguished himself to the world by his wins on the field, but he has endeared himself to thousands of student-athletes who have learned through his leadership that success in the classroom and in life is the greatest accomplishment.

"For me, Coach Paterno is the definitive role model of what it means to be a college coach."

Paterno, who holds the record for most Football Bowl Subdivision wins with 401, has coached the Nittany Lions since 1966. He was among the first three active coaches inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame and has coached more bowl games (36) and has more postseason wins (24) than any coach in college football history. He has two national championships (1982 and 1986) and seven of his teams earned undefeated regular seasons.

Before becoming head coach, Paterno was an assistant to the legendary Rip Engle for 16 years. Counting the victories he collected with Engle, Paterno has been present for 505 of Penn State’s 818 wins since the program began in 1887.

Paterno’s program emphasizes academics as a constant companion to athletics. For the third consecutive year, Penn State led all FBS teams in first-team ESPN/CoSIDA Academic All-American selections. Under his leadership, Penn State football has an 84 percent graduation rate, according to the 2010 NCAA Graduation Rates report.

The five-time AFCA National Coach of the Year began his career at Penn State during the Truman administration and has coached through 12 presidential terms. During Paterno’s tenure, his teams have produced 16 Hall of Fame Scholar-Athletes, 47 ESPN/CoSIDA Academic All-Americans and 18 NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship winners. Penn State has had at least one Academic All-American in each of the past nine years, with 13 first-team honorees during the last five years.
In 1998 Paterno; his wife, Sue; and their five children announced a $3.5 million contribution to Penn State. The gift endows faculty positions and scholarships in the College of the Liberal Arts, the School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture and the University Libraries. It also supported two building projects, an interfaith spiritual center and the Penn State All-Sports Museum. The Paternos have also made a $1 million contribution to the Mount Nittany Medical Center, supporting an expansion of Centre County’s primary health facility. They have been active in the Special Olympics and in 2008 were inducted into the Special Olympics Pennsylvania Hall of Fame.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated April 10, 2012