Three months after losing his battle with lung cancer, legendary former Penn State head coach Joe Paterno has posthumously added yet another honor that recognizes his storied coaching career.
In a release, the College Sports Information Directors of America announced that Paterno has been named as the 2012 recipient of the Dick Enberg Award. Named in honor of the one-time NBC sports broadcasting icon Dick Enberg and established in 1997, the award is presented annually to “those that embody my passion and commitment to academics and athletics.”
In his statement, Enberg wrote that “Coach Paterno’s amazing record in that regard speaks of his greatness as a national leader in sport and education, and I’m deeply honored that his name will be associated with the meaning of this award.”
Paterno was actually voted as the winner of the award in March of 2011, but was unable to attend the presentation last summer. The release notes that Paterno “was planning to appear at this year’s event in St. Louis before passing away in January after a battle with lung cancer.”
Jay Paterno, Joe’s son and former Nittany Lions assistant coach, accepted the award on his family’s behalf.
“On behalf of everyone in the Paterno and Penn State family we are honored by Joe Paterno’s selection as the 2012 Dick Enberg Award recipient,” Jay Paterno said. “It is recognition of a life of integrity and a career built on an unyielding pursuit of academic, athletic and personal excellence in his life and the lives of his student-athletes. As my father would have been quick to point out this award is only possible because of outstanding student-athletes, assistant coaches, and academic support staff. Joe Paterno and his staff built a model program, a national leader evidenced by nearly 50 Academic All-America selections and unsurpassed team success in the classroom and on the field.
“It is an honor for my father to be associated with a great professional in Dick Enberg as well as the distinguished previous winners.”
Of those previous 15 winners, just three were from the coaching field — Pat Summitt, Tennessee women’s basketball coach (2007); Tom Osborne, Nebraska head football coach and athletic director (2003); and Dean Smith, North Carolina men’s basketball coach (1999).
Other honorees have included former U.S. President Gerald Ford (2006), College Football and NFL Hall of Famer Alan Page (2002) and NBA Hall of Famer Bill Russell (2000).