February 27, 2013 at 9:53 AM
Fran Ganter has decided to retire after 46 years with the Penn State football program, according to a press release.
Ganter spent four years in a Nittany Lion uniform as a running back, 33 years on the team's sideline as an assistant coach — including a long run as the team's offensive coordinator — and since 2004, the Bethel Park native has been in the role of Associate Athletic Director for Football Administration. His retirement officially goes into effect on Feb. 28, the release said.
As a player, Ganter was a part of both the 1968 and 1969 Penn State teams, which both finished with undefeated seasons. As a coach, he was on the sideline for both of Penn State's National Championships (1982 and 1986) and worked his way up the totem pole to become the only Assistant Head Coach under the late Joe Paterno.
"I will always owe a debt of gratitude to Coach Bob Phillips for recruiting me to play at Penn State, and to Coach (Joe) Paterno for giving me the opportunity of a lifetime when he hired me onto his staff," Ganter said in the press release. "Outside of my Dad (Fran), who passed away when I was a young man and prior to being a father myself, Coach Paterno was the most influential and constant figure in my life. He was tough as my coach and demanding as my boss, but was always thoughtful and understanding when it came to my family."
Ganter mentored the Lions' freshman team in 1971 after his playing days ended. He was promoted to running backs and kickers coach in 1978, and then took the reins of the offense in 1984. Under Ganter's tutelage, six Penn State running backs, including Ki-Jana Carter, Curt Warner and Curtis Enis were named first-team All-Americans.
In 1994, Penn State's offense put up prolific numbers (520.2 yards and 47.8 points per game), and Ganter was dubbed the Assistant Coach of the Year by Athlon. Ganter was also inducted into the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame in 2010.
Though there has been a lot of turnover in the football department in the last year and a half, with the firing of Paterno and hiring of Bill O'Brien, Ganter stuck around for the 2012 season. Ganter said he was "extremely fortunate" to be able to work with O'Brien in the last year.
"[I] would like to thank [O'Brien] for his great leadership and to congratulate him and his staff on a terrific season," Ganter said in the press release. "Finally, and most importantly, I am sincerely grateful to all the players over all of the years who made it a joy for me to come to work every day -- it was truly a privilege and an honor to be a part of their lives."