UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- In 1994, Fran Ganter had the opportunity to leave Happy Valley. Penn State was 11-0, preparing for a Rose Bowl, and Michigan State called, offering the head coaching job, a better salary and a fresh start that Joe Paterno said he would approve.
But Ganter, a Bethel Park native and graduate of Bethel Park High School, knew he wouldn't take it. Everyone knew he wouldn't take it.
"We always joke that Frannie's parents dropped him off when he was a freshman and he never left," then-center Bucky Greeley told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette at the time. "We think his parents didn't tell him where they moved."
That's how it seemed for Ganter, who Wednesday announced his retirement from his position as associate athletic director for football administration.
He spent 46 years at Penn State, playing running back for two Orange Bowl teams in the late 1960s, then became an assistant upon graduation.
Ganter started out as the freshman coach in 1971 and finished as the only assistant under Paterno to earn the title "assistant head coach."
His most memorable season was 1994. Under his guidance as offensive coordinator, Penn State finished 12-0, averaging 520.2 yards and 47.8 points per game.
At practice, Ganter cared about the smallest details and mechanics, focusing so his players could learn to focus as well. He morphed into the typical player's coach when the practices ended.
Mike Cerimele, who played running back for Penn State in the late 1990s, remembers how Ganter would invite players to his house for cookouts in the summer.
"Off the field, he was very open to meeting, almost like a parent figure away from home," Cerimele said.
"You could come to him with anything."
Ganter took an administrative position in 2004, effectively ending the possibility of him replacing Paterno if the head coach retired.
Since then, Ganter looked over the football program and helped direct the Penn State Football Letterman's Club.
"I am very proud and thankful to have been a member of the Penn State football family for the past 46 years," he said in a release. "I am also thankful for the lifelong friendships I forged with my fellow coaches."
Ganter arrived in the second year of Paterno's head coaching career and remained to the end. In November 2011, according to ESPN.com, Ganter was working late in his office when the university's board of trustees approached him with a task. That night he went to Paterno's house. He gave him the letter containing the number that Paterno called to learn he had been fired.
His name popped up in the news again in June when Victim 4 testified in the Jerry Sandusky trial that Ganter once saw him in the shower with Sandusky. In June, Ganter said he didn't think it was "appropriate for him to make any comment" about the testimony.
Ganter did not respond to an interview request Wednesday.
His departure marks another sign of Penn State moving past the Paterno era. Only three men who had connections to Paterno's football teams still have significant positions in the athletic department: longtime football assistants Larry Johnson and Ron Vanderlinden and athletic director Dave Joyner, who played for Paterno and will be replaced in June 2014.
Team physician replaced
Penn State announced Wednesday that longtime football team physician and orthopedic surgeon Wayne Sebastianelli no longer will serve the team. He will be replaced by Peter Seidenberg, the primary care sports medicine physician for Penn State Hershey's State College office, and Scott Lynch, the director of orthopedic sports medicine at Penn State Hershey Medical Center.
Sebastianelli had served as the team physician and orthopedic surgeon since 1992. In a release, Penn State wrote: "The change in physicians was made after a review of procedures and personnel by [c]oach Bill O'Brien and is part of an ongoing reorganization of the football staff."
Mark Dent: email@example.com and Twitter @mdent05. First Published February 28, 2013 5:00 AM