At exactly 4:09 p.m. Sunday, dozens of people inside Home D Pizzeria/Robin Hood Brewing Co. on South Atherton Street raised flutes of Champagne to celebrate the restoration of 112 victories — 111 won with late coach Joe Paterno at the helm — to the Penn State football program and the repeal of sanctions imposed by the NCAA on the university.
Before the toast, Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, R-Benner Township, addressed the crowd. He started by noting that no one needed the NCAA to tell anyone how many games the football team and Paterno had won.
“Those who lived here and those who watched knew how many wins we had,” Corman said.
It was Corman and state Treasurer Rob McCord who filed the lawsuit in January 2013 that ultimately led to the downing of Champagne on Sunday. Earlier this month, Corman announced that the consent decree that imposed the sanctions were voided by the NCAA as part of a settlement of the suit.
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The worst thing about the consent decree imposed on the university was that it implied the culture of the community was sick, Corman said. Although horrible things happened at the hands of a predator and everyone must be mindful to make sure those things never happen again, the community culture is a “healthy one,” Corman said.
“Today is a celebration of this community and this university,” he said.
Figures from Penn State football, such as former radio announcer Fran Fisher and former tail back Blair Thomas, were present for the toast. Jay Paterno was also at the event to sign copies of his book, “Paterno Legacy,” a biography of his father.
The large “409” placards, representative of the number of victories Paterno earned as coach, signed by passers-by downtown in October were set up in the establishment. The numbers were intended to petition NCAA President Mark Emmert to restore the victories. There are no concrete plans for the placards now the wins are restored, said Michelle Hagan, of The Porterfield Group, the State College-based production company that held the rally and made Paterno-themed documentaries like “The People’s Joe.” The company would make them available for similar events in the future, she added.
The celebration was also to recognize the players who saw the vacated wins restored, said Kelly Swisher, sales and marketing director with the restaurant.
“We wanted to have an event to honor Penn State and the lettermen that had their wins restored,” she said.