Rep. Glenn Thompson says the Hall of Fame coach deserves a Presidential Medal of Freedom for his efforts in serving the Nittany Lions, the university and the community.
In a letter to President Barack Obama, Thompson says Paterno personifies sportsmanship on the field and academic achievement in the classroom.
The Republican congressman also notes the Paterno family's philanthropic efforts, including Special Olympics and millions of dollars in donations to help build the school library and other projects.
Paterno's 394 career victories are the most among college coaches.
Penn State kicks off the 2010 season on Sept. 4 against Youngstown State.