Airborne banner: Take down Paterno statue
A plane carries a banner reading "Take the Statue Down or We Will" above the Penn State campus on Tuesday.
July 17th, 2012
12:21 PM ET

Airborne banner: Take down Paterno statue

A small plane flew around the Penn State campus on Tuesday carrying a banner that read, "Take the Statue Down or We Will," a reference to the statue of former head football coach Joe Paterno that sits outside Beaver Stadium.

The statue is among many vestiges left from Paterno's 46 years as head coach of the Nittany Lions, a run that ended in disgrace in November when he was fired in the wake of a sex abuse scandal involving former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.

"I'm a Penn State employee that thinks we have failed miserably, and I'm sad for the damage that has been done, but this is just upsetting," Diane Farley, a PSU alumnus who spotted the plane on Tuesday told the Patriot-News of Harrisburg. "It's just stirring up everything."

Many people are calling for the Paterno statue to be torn down.

In an ESPN poll, more than 60% of respondents said the statue should be removed immediately or sometime before the 2012 football season commences.

A Penn State student group eliminated another Paterno vestige on Monday, renaming the encampment where students line up overnight to get the best seats for football games, from Paternoville to Nittanyville.

The action comes after a report by former FBI Director Louis Freeh last week that found that several school officials had "empowered" Sandusky to continue sexually abusing minors. Paterno could have stopped the attacks had he done more, Freeh concluded.

Sandusky was convicted last month of sexually abusing children over 15 years, with much of the abuse occurring on the Penn State campus. He is awaiting sentencing.

Paterno died of lung cancer in January at the age of 85, two months after he was fired because of the Sandusky scandal.

In his 46 years as head coach at Penn State, Paterno achieved mythic status. But with the release of the Freeh report, many no longer want the symbols of that status, including the name of the encampment, to have such prominence in the university community.

"Now, it's a new era of Nittany Lion football," Troy Weller, a Penn State senior and president of the newly retitled Nittanyville Coordination Committee, said in a statement Monday. "And by changing the name to Nittanyville we want to return the focus to the overall team and the thousands of students who support it."

Students camp out in "Paternoville," outside Beaver Stadium, in November.

The organization's vice president, Jeff Lowe, said it couldn't function properly while still associated with the Paterno name.

"The idea of being in the middle of a political war over the name, due to our association with Joe Paterno, has lead to threats, hate mail and efforts from people outside of Penn State to try and ruin our ability to run an effective organization," Lowe told StateCollege.com.

Reaction to the announcement on the committee's Facebook page was swift and combative on both sides the argument.

"Another idiotic move by stupid people. For the student leaders that made this decision, do us all a favor and transfer. Cowards," wrote Bob Fetrow.

"This is pathetic," wrote Janessa Bednash. "Read the report. There is no evidence to determine Joe had a hand in covering this up.

"You're a disgrace to all that truly are Penn State. Joe Paterno included," Bednash scolded the Nittanyville committee.

"If you believe in the legacy (Paterno) left in the thousands of students he influenced both on and off the field then do not disgrace his name. You are a part of this college you should be defending him," said David Eberly.

Many predicted that the camp would see fewer students with the name change.

"Paternoville is officially dead. Don't be upset when 3 people show up at the first game and it goes downhill from there," wrote Chris Sheedy.

"I don't think you guys are going to get hardly any campers this year because of this. The organization will cease to exist in a matter of a couple of years," Bud Parks wrote.

Supporters of the move responded just as quickly, praising the organization and ripping its detractors.

"This organization has proven that it can do the right thing in the face of adversity. Unlike a certain former head coach that so many people are attempting to protect," wrote Skip Bishop.

"I'm glad the people running this page had the courage to change its name. They may be the only people at your university with any integrity," Will Teague said.

Others said the name change was not enough.

"Paterno was a villain, not a hero. His name is a blight - remove it from EVERYTHING," wrote Ben Stuenkel.

Some entities outside the university are doing just that.

Brown University in Rhode Island pulled the name of Paterno, an alumnus, from its outstanding male freshman athlete award.

"Since 1991, the Department of Athletics and Physical Education has presented an award to the year's outstanding male freshman athlete. In 1993 the Department of Athletics and Physical Education renamed the award to honor Joe Paterno," a statement from the school said. "In the spring of 2012, the Department of Athletics presented the award as it was originally created, honoring the year's outstanding male freshman athlete without Joe Paterno's name attached. The director of Athletics has now recommended and the University has approved the decision to remove permanently the Paterno name from the award. Past recipients will be informed of the decision to eliminate the name from the award."

Nike announced last week that a child care center at its Beaverton, Oregon, headquarters would no longer bear Paterno's name.

And a mural of Paterno in the gym of a Connecticut middle school will be painted over, the Connecticut Post reported.

And, of course, there are the calls to tear down the Paterno statue.

And some are questioning whether that season should commence at all, calling on the university to cancel the season or the NCAA to stop the school from playing.

Some experts are saying the school must do something drastic such as canceling the season to restore its good name.

“I can’t see any other action that shows that great intersection of wanting to do better - introspection, remorse, pain, leadership, humanity, empathy - in its real sense,” Dan Lebowitz, executive director of Northeastern University’s Sport and Society program, told InsideHigherEd.com. “If they’re hoping for football to return to prominence, wouldn’t they want it also under a cleansed brand?”

More on Paterno in wake of scandal:

Paterno defended program in letter before his death

The woman who stood up to Paterno

Story of football hero recast

Post by:
Filed under: College football • Crime • Football • Jerry Sandusky • Joe Paterno • Justice • Penn State • Pennsylvania • Sports
soundoff (520 Responses)
  1. Paul

    And down comes the statue.

    July 17, 2012 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wendy Jane

      Just too bad that when they tear down the statue he isn't alive to see it.

      July 17, 2012 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • dl knowles

      Maybe rather than taking down the statue it would be better to put a set of blinders on the statue as a reminder of the failure of the top officials to properly monitor the program and the willingness to turn a blind eye to wrongdoing.

      July 17, 2012 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
  2. kauhale

    They need to cancel the season, not the NCAA but Penn State needs to do it. In my own opinion I would not want to wear that uniform. The reaction across the country when they see the uniform will possibly be too much and totally unfair to the student athletes.

    July 17, 2012 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Parfin Woodell

      Yeah, punish the players,
      punish the students,
      punish the janitor and the waterboy
      and the teachers, and.......dont forget to kick the mascot.

      Idiot.

      July 17, 2012 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Jimbo

    People who idolize people they have never met or maybe just shook hands with once are braindead. Get rid of everything tied to this molester protecter. You can almost blame the Peterno fans for giving him so much power and thinking he was super human, allowing him to have so much control over what has happened.

    July 17, 2012 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
  4. NJtreker

    Penn State is going to have issues with keeping their accreditation. I think very drastic steps need to be taken beyond football. What happened at Penn State regarding to the coverup was cultural. I think the entire athletic program should be suspended and the entire athletic staff laid off and as programs come back on line bring them back with an entire new staff. I also think some name changes are in order. Should the name of Penn State's sports teams continue to be named after a predator?

    July 17, 2012 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • psualum

      What are you talking about?? I can see canceling the football season, but other sports programs had no hand in this. How can you punish hundreds of student atheltes for having no involvement. And as for having sports teams named after him, not quite sure what you are getting at...sports teams don't have names except the sport they are!!

      FYI...stop reading headlines

      July 17, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      I am a recent graduate of Penn State Dickinson School of Law. IMO, the Penn state problem is not removal of statues or football sceduling penalties. The primary problem is that Penn State remains above the law to this day. Because of a deal brokered by the Pennsylvania legislature & Penn State President (the fired one) to "protect the image of Penn state", Penn State remains as 1 of only 2 colleges in PA held to be above the law, i.e., its records are not subject to being subpoenaed. Penn State will always be susceptible to "repeating this" until their records can be subpoenaed by Penn courts. Even Freeh could not access Penn State records without first getting the board's permission.

      July 17, 2012 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Go Big Blue!

    "You're a disgrace to all that truly are Penn State. Joe Paterno included,"

    Didn't JoePa already take care of this himself?

    July 17, 2012 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Julie

    Why should they cancel the season? The kids playing football have NOTHING to do with the scandal. Sandusky is in jail, Paterno is dead. Why should current Penn State students have to suffer? That's stupid, just like saying that we should pay African-Americans to make up for past slavery. Give me a break.

    July 17, 2012 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • edvhou812

      People's argument is that the football program makes a lot of money, which is why Penn State covered everything up. Take away the money, and you take away the corruption. I'd be all for letting the football stay if all of the profits for 2012 are donated to charity. Otherwise, I agree. Shut it down for 12 months. Stinks for the student atheletes, but that's just how it goes sometimes.

      July 17, 2012 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ben

      In some cases, African Americans have been compensated for slavery. Also, Native Americans have been compensated for past actions taken against them.

      July 17, 2012 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Will

      Julie-The reason they should cancel the season, ie the death penalty, is to send a message to every other university out there that this will not be tolerated. They handed the death penalty to SMU for Academic fraud. What is worse, Academic fraud or child molestation?? The NCAA already set the precedence for the Death Penalty and child molestatiopn is worse than any other reason they have ever used it.

      July 17, 2012 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • moe

      NCAA does this all the time, they punished USC 5years after an incident where a player got a free car, and the coach at the time of the incident wasn't there, if you are going to punish a program beause a player got a free tattoo, but not fr what penn state did, what does that say about the NCAA?

      July 17, 2012 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Will

      Parfin – – – Did they get the message?? I know it sounds crazy but other universities don't seem to get the message when other penalties are handed down. And like I said, The NCAA already set the precedent. Do you feel that the Univeristy as a whole has no responsibility in this matter and should receive absolutly no punishment from the NCAA?? Sad if you do.

      July 17, 2012 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan I

      You're right that it isn't fair to the current students. But the problem runs far deeper than Paterno and the individuals involved. This runs to the very heart of Penn State's campus culture. It is Football U and the goal was "protect the program" beyond all else. At that point the PROGRAM that is causing this mentality is the problem.

      July 17, 2012 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      If you know anything about how sanctions work then you would know that it is the current students that take the hit. Current USC athletes are bearing the brunt of sanctions for transgressions of a past athlete. This was a cover up by the athletic department, hence the reason the former AD has been idicted. If it is also determined that the previous head coach, Paterno, was a part of it or at the very least turned a blind eye or said I reported to my boss and did nothing more, then yes Sanction the hell out of the program. If they do not, who will want to sponsor a televised game of a program that cannot proctect children.

      July 17, 2012 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andy

      Then let them transfer just like they did with SMU. You're right don't let the kids suffer. But the program should. If the death penalty isn't instated then the four men covering up this heinous crime did just want they wanted, they protected the program. Any program that covers for child molesters should not be allowed to exist.

      Kids transfer, program dies. Simple as that. The only people who are hurt are those who should pay the price for harboring a child molester.

      July 17, 2012 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
  7. edvhou812

    I am hoping that the person who wrote the below didn't get into college.

    "This is pathetic," wrote Janessa Bednash. "Read the report. There is no evidence to determine Joe had a hand in covering this up.

    July 17, 2012 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Parfin Woodell

      *** Will

      Julie-The reason they should cancel the season, ie the death penalty, is to send a message to every other university out there that this will not be tolerated.

      I think they got the message.

      July 17, 2012 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Robert J Zeigler

    It's going to take awhile for the typical Penn State student-last resort school for the most barely graduating PA seniors to wrap their minute heads around what's happened and try to see this event with the eyes of someone intelligent and look at the bigger picture.

    Asa local resident, I could almost see something as humbling as this coming .... it needed to happen ....maybe the subsequent classes of PSU will ditch some of the misplaced bravado and moronic hoopla and look at life in more realistic terms. There's more to life than football (hard to believe, but true).

    We'll see.

    July 17, 2012 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • PSU alum

      ahh, another local that bites the hand that feeds it.

      July 17, 2012 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Mitch

    Put in the showers so he can't look away.

    July 17, 2012 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Roscoe Chait

    It seems that some of the students need to be educated about their leaders. Paterno was a creep. The real problem is the elevating of coaches to mythic status. They are only human beings. By putting so much pressure on them and praising them like gods, they feel they not only can get away with anything, but they must. The best solution would be to do away with football, which is a primaeval, gladiatorial excuse for combat. Too many young players end up with brain injuries, broken limbs and addictions to steroids. The so-called sport gives permission to young men to become aggressive, violent and amoral in their attempted destruction of their opponents.

    July 17, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Bird

    I'm a little confused and not in a sarcastic way...Joe Paterno got wind of what Sandusky was doing and immediately reported it to his superiors as he was supposed to. Was it not his superiors who dropped the ball and did the cover-up? Was Joe supposed to continue "checking up on" what his superiors were doing and whether or not they were performing their due diligence?

    July 17, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jimbo

      Have you been following this story at all? If not, please do some homework before commenting. His superiors have lost their jobs and it was shown in the report that Paterno had turned a blind eye...

      July 17, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kevin

      I understand your point but Paterno should have gone directly to the police as well. Horrible crimes were being committed by Sandusky, you can't just deal with that internally, Sandusky needed to be arrested on the spot.

      July 17, 2012 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      Was Joe supposed to continue "checking up on" what his superiors were doing and whether or not they were performing their due diligence?

      YES. That's what a leader does. A spineless coward passes the buck and looks the other way.

      July 17, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • dl knowles

      In a word, YES. We are talking about a crime being reported to him not a rules infraction. He should have called the police, as in law enforcement and not go into the coverup mode.

      July 17, 2012 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • SoundRiver

      Paterno for all practical purposes, never had any superiors. Paterno was Penn State and Penn State was Paterno. He ruled the college like a fiefdom. He called all the shots. His so-called superiors were his errand boys.

      July 17, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Blanderson Hooper

    No Penn State victory was ever legit anyway. Their victories were fraudulent. All of their victories should be declared null and void. Paterno never did anything but walk the sidelines talking to himself, anyway.

    July 17, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Stephen

    This is certainly a lesson in the dangers of hero worship, the power of the "good ole boys" club and blind faith. I'd be really surprised if that statue stands much longer. Just from a safety perspective, the school would have to post somebody there all the time to protect it.

    July 17, 2012 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Bryan

    Pathetic. Your a great man, Joe, and those with half a brain and immune to knee-jerk PC acknowledge it. Jerry Sandusky is the only man who deserves to be villified, to bad in this country no one can take resposibility for anything without having to involve scapegoats. All you people are giving Sandusky the fodder to say "It wasn't just my fault!". Sad.

    July 17, 2012 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pika

      Bryan, you are one of the people who empowered this molester protecter to have so much power, great job...now open your eyes.

      July 17, 2012 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Parfin Woodell

      Bryan, you are pathetic.

      July 17, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • dl knowles

      The crime was Sanduskys but the coveup and the failure to report said crime to the proper authorities was Paterno and the other members of the Penn State Staff. Paterno is not innocent of the crime of ommission.

      July 17, 2012 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
  15. John

    C'mon Treker – this has nothing to do with accreditation. You obviously have no idea how accreditation works.

    July 17, 2012 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20