Other than the late Joe Paterno, few people have been associated with Penn State's football program longer than Fran Ganter.
A Nittany Lions running back from 1967-70, Ganter spent 33 years on Paterno's coaching staff before moving into an administrative role -- related to football -- in 2004. He will retire from the school Thursday after a 46-year run.
"I am very proud and thankful to have been a member of the Penn State Football family for the past 46 years," Ganter said in a statement released by the team. "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. 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."
Ganter also thanked current Penn State coach Bill O'Brien in his lenghty statement. After graduating from Penn State in 1971, Ganter started coaching the Lions' freshman team that fall before moving up the ladder. He became the team's offensive coordinator in 1984 and assistant head coach in 2000. Ganter coached six All-America running backs, including Curt Warner and Ki-Jana Carter, as well as two All-America kickers during his tenure.
Many thought Ganter's promotion to assistant head coach put him in line to succeed Paterno for the top job (longtime assistant Jerry Sandusky retired following the 1999 season). But Paterno remained head coach through a rough on-field stretch between 2000-04, after which Ganter became associate athletic director for football administration.
Read more on Ganter's retirement, including tributes from former Penn State players, by clicking here.