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E-Penn State gymnastics coach Gene Wettstone dies

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - Gene Wettstone, the former Penn State men's gymnastics coach who holds the NCAA record for most team championships in that sport, has died. He was 100.

The school said Wettstone died Tuesday in State College. He coached at Penn State for 36 seasons, winning nine NCAA team titles.

Wettstone's gymnasts also won 35 individual national titles, and three Nittany Lions won the Nissen-Emery Award for the nation's top gymnast during his tenure. Wettstone retired from coaching in 1976.

Penn State said he was considered the "Dean of Collegiate Gymnastics." He was inducted into the U.S. Gymnastics Hall of Fame in 1963.

Wettstone also coached the U.S. Olympic men's gymnastics team in 1948 and 1956. A former member of the U.S. Olympic Committee, Wettstone also served as an Olympic judge in 1952 and 1968.

At Penn State, Wettstone is also credited with helping to revive the Nittany Lion mascot in 1939 following a 12-year hiatus. He wore the outfit for one season before passing on the responsibilities to a student.

Wettstone "is viewed as the John Wooden of college gymnastics," athletic director Dave Joyner said this week, referring to the late UCLA basketball coach. "Coach Wettstone was a great person and an outstanding tutor that brought Penn State and collegiate gymnastics to the forefront. He will be deeply missed by Penn Staters and many others around the world."

Wettstone attended college at Iowa, where he won a Big Ten title on the pommel horse and high bar, and in the all-around as a senior in 1937.

A memorial service was scheduled for Saturday at Foxdale Retirement Center in State College. -- AP

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