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Penn State again lands at the top

  • Article by: RACHEL COHENAssociated Press
  • December 26, 2012 - 1:18 AM

The Penn State child sex abuse scandal was selected as the sports story of the year by U.S. editors and news directors in an annual vote conducted by the Associated Press.

The news broke in November 2011, with a grand jury report outlining charges against Jerry Sandusky, and the outrage that followed led to the firing of Hall of Fame coach Joe Paterno. But the aftershocks were felt long into 2012: Sandusky was convicted in June of assaulting 10 boys, and the NCAA handed down brutal sanctions in July. Also, Paterno died Jan. 22 at age 85 of lung cancer.

In both years, the scandal was picked as the top sports story, the first time since the AP began conducting its annual vote in 1990 that the same story was selected twice in a row.

Here are 2012's top 10 stories, as determined from 157 ballots submitted by U.S. news organizations:

1. PENN STATE

Sandusky, a longtime Penn defensive coordinator, was found guilty on 45 of 48 counts of sexual abuse and sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison. Former FBI Director Louis Freeh released the results of his investigation July 12, saying Paterno and other top school officials covered up allegations against Sandusky. NCAA sanctions included a $60 million fine, a four-year bowl ban and scholarship reductions.

2. LANCE ARMSTRONG

In June, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency accused him of using performance-enhancing drugs, and in August, when he dropped his fight against the charges, USADA ordered his record seven Tour de France titles wiped out. A report released in October laid out vivid details of the evidence.

3. NFL BOUNTIES

This much is clear: Saints coach Sean Payton was suspended for the entire season and New Orleans started 0-4. Much else about the bounty scandal remains in dispute. Players deny the NFL's assertions of a pay-for-injury program. On Dec. 11, former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue overturned his successor's suspensions of four players.

4. FOOTBALL CONCUSSIONS

The deaths of NFL greats Alex Karras -- who suffered from dementia -- and Junior Seau -- who committed suicide -- were grim reminders of the angst over head injuries in the sport. Thousands of retired players have sued the league, alleging the NFL failed to protect them from the dangers of concussions.

5. LONDON OLYMPICS

Michael Phelps retired from swimming after setting an Olympic record with his 22nd medal at a Summer Games bursting with memorable performances. Usain Bolt became the first man to successfully defend the 100- and 200-meter dash titles. And the host country racked up 65 medals.

6. COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFFS

After years of carping, fans finally got a playoff system, which will debut after the 2014 season. The four-team bracket will feature semifinals and a title game to determine a national champion.

7. REPLACEMENT OFFICIALS

Doom was forecast when the NFL started the season with replacement officials because of a labor dispute. Sure enough, in Week 3, on "Monday Night Football," a questionable touchdown catch handed Seattle a win over Green Bay. Two days later, the league resolved its labor dispute with the regular refs.

8. SUPER GIANTS

A team that had been 7-7 upset the top-seeded Packers on the road in the playoffs and went on to a Super Bowl victory over New England.

9. SUMMITT RETIRES

Pat Summitt, the winningest coach in NCAA basketball history, retired from the Tennessee bench in April at age 59, less than eight months after revealing she had early-onset dementia.

10. MANNING'S RESURGENCE

The Broncos gambled that Peyton Manning still had some championship play left in that right arm despite that injured neck, and he led Denver to first place in the AFC West.

© 2014 Star Tribune