For the second year in a row, Penn State and the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal was named the sports story of the year by the Associated Press. This was the first time since the vote began in 1990 that the same story had been chosen two straight years.
It was an eventful calendar year that included vigils, memorials, court proceedings, and several football stories.
Bill O’Brien was hired as Penn State’s 15th head football coach on January 7th. While many were skeptical of the hire, O’Brien took the team to an 8-4 record, despite nine players transferring and the sanctions brought down by the NCAA in July.
Just a few weeks after O’Brien was hired, Joe Paterno passed away on January 22nd, due to complications from lung cancer. Students held a candlelight vigil to mourn his passing that night and a memorial was held at the Bryce Jordan Center to honor Paterno a few days later.
The Sandusky trial finally began on June 11th, and he was found guilty on 45 of the 48 counts of crimes related to child abuse 11 days later. On October 9th, Sandusky was sentenced to 30-60 years in prison.
Just weeks after the trial ended, Louis Freeh released his report on how Penn State administrators handled the Sandusky situation prior to the grand jury report. The report was later used by the NCAA who imposed harsh sanctions, including a 4-year bowl ban, a $60 million fine, a reduction of scholarships, and players being allowed to transfer from the program without penalty. Nine players ended up transferring following the sanctions including Silas Redd to Southern California and Anthony Fera to Texas.
Shortly after the Freeh report was released, the Paterno statue by Beaver Stadium was taken down.
Former Penn State president Graham Spanier was charged with perjury and obstruction of justice on November 1st. Athletic Director Tim Curley and former vice president for finance and business Gary Schultz received additional charges the same day. All three will likely stand trial at some point in 2013.