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Photo of the Month
November 2023
See Previous Photos     Unknown Faces and Places
Courtesy Penn State University All Sports Museum

Book naming Ernie McCoy 
Ernest Browning "Ernie" McCoy parlayed an All-America career as a University of Michigan Wolverines athlete into a highly successful calling as athletic director for the Penn State University Nittany Lions. When Ernie first joined the Penn State staff, the legendary Charles A. "Rip" Engle was head football coach. When Engle retired in 1966, Ernie replaced him with an up-and-coming assistant, Joe Paterno. The new hire went on to win 409 games, the most in major collegiate history, and captured two national championships. In recognition of his many accomplishments, Ernie was pictured in this "A Salute to Ernie McCoy" cover story in the Penn State football program of Nov. 15, 1969.

After obtained a master's degree in physical education from Columbia University in New York, Ernie got his start as a teacher, coach and athletic director at a high school in Montclair, NJ, followed by a role as athletic director at Montclair Teachers College. In 1940, he joined the Michigan athletic staff and was an assistant coach for football, basketball and baseball, also serving as a chief football scout. He became known for a balanced approach to academics and athletics. Then in 1952, he accepted a new position at Penn State, with the roles of dean of physical education and athletic director. Ernie also helped establish a reputation by founding Penn State's Sports Research Institute and served a term as vice president and secretary treasurer for the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA).

Although Ernie would not have known, as the connection was remote, the football team's starting quarterback in 1964 was his distant cousin Gary Wydman, this website's "Photo of the Month" for September 2022.

Ernie remained at Penn State until retirement in 1970. Within a year, he joined the University of Miami as temporary athletic director and stayed until 1973. He is mentioned in a number of books about Paterno, among them the 1971 autobiography, Joe Paterno: "Football My Way," with Mervin D. Hyman and Gordon S. White Jr. The book cites Ernie as an "astute administrator" who had "found the athletic finances in a deplorable condition" when first hired and then took corrective measures. It also described a host of inter-personal clashes with Paterno over on- and off-the-field issues.

Born in Pittsburgh, Ernie was the son of Jarrette "Ernest" and Melinda Jane "Jennie" (Browning) McCoy of the family of Lyman and Mary Ann (McClanahan) Gaumer of Adamsville, Muskingum County, OH.

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