NEW YORK - This being the holiday season, two longtime friends of the Paterno family have given their favorite coach a gift that will keep on giving.

Patrick and Candace Malloy, of Key Largo, Fla., have committed $5 million to create the Malloy Paterno Head Football Coach Endowment at Penn State, in recognition of Joe Paterno's 42 years (and counting) as the field leader of the Nittany Lions. The Malloys' intentions were announced Monday night at a private reception here, the day before Paterno's induction into the College Football Hall of Fame.

The endowment is the largest individual gift in the history of Penn State athletics, and is believed to be the first named and endowed head football coach position at any of the nation's universities.

"All of Penn State has benefited from Joe's commitment to success with honor," said Patrick Malloy, a 1965 Penn State graduate who received the bronze star as a Green Beret officer during the Vietnam War.

Paterno said he was stunned by the magnitude of the Malloys' gift.

"This means just as much to me as making the Hall of Fame," Paterno said. "I can't imagine a better surprise. I guess Christmas came early this year." *

- Bernard Fernandez