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

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

    One wonders what Joe Arpaio's opinion is of Paterno and his gang of accessory-to-child-rapists, hmm?

    July 17, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Paul

    Calm down; carry on

    July 17, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
  3. David B

    It is so painful when a hero is taken down, but Louis Freeh did not take JoePa down, JoePa took himself down when he turned a blind eye and did nothing. The JoePa myth would have had him do the right thing from the first moment in 1998 and turn Sandusky in. He didn't. He protected his friend and enabled him for years. Had he not passed away, he would be indicted too.

    He won a lot of football games but his statue should come down.

    July 17, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Outside Observer

      Joe pa has not ben taken down one bit -– this is all so premature --

      July 17, 2012 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
  4. DC Observer

    I have not seen anything but opinion and conjecture that Joe did anything terribly wrong. It is sick to ruin a man's lifetime work over a flawed report. Shame on the all the do gooders .....you have no clue.

    July 17, 2012 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • asdf

      Except all those emails and witness accounts.

      July 17, 2012 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • tpbco

      Perhaps you need to brush up on your reading comprehension skills.

      July 17, 2012 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike McC

      Tis neither opinion nor conjecture. Read the FBI report. He knew, he did nothing. He's culpable. The end.

      July 17, 2012 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Boomer

    Why don't they just turn the statue, so it looks the other way?

    July 17, 2012 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dude2011

      How about turning the statue around and bending it over so the statue will have the same view as all of the little children Sandusky violated and Joe helped to hide.

      July 17, 2012 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • JoeSlaw

      brilliant

      July 17, 2012 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
  6. voice of reason

    wow. look at all the judgemental people on this issue. on BOTH sides.
    ponder this: would Paterno be such the villain if the school officials he reported the 2001 incident to had immediately notified law enforcement and/or other authorities? so law enforcement stops Sandusky, yet the actions of Paterno are unchanged. you still want say what an evil man he is then?

    July 17, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • asdf

      Paterno ran that school. He had no boss. If he said "arrest him" that's what would have happened. Do you honestly think that the higher-ups didn't ask him what he thought they should do?

      July 17, 2012 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • tpbco

      Do you mean those officials he told to bury the story?

      July 17, 2012 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike McC

      Yes, because he was supposed to report it to Police, not campus staff.

      July 17, 2012 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • CC

      He should have went to the police immediately, not higher ups that would cover the whole thing up. He didn't pursue it further then that. Are you seriously defending him. Shame on you!

      July 17, 2012 at 9:45 pm | Report abuse |
  7. OPEN400

    Read this passage from Mother Theresa. It applies to a coach that gave 61 years of his life to a cause and mismanaged a problem that was really a problem the State College police and DA should have handled:

    People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.

    If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.

    If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.

    If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.

    What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.

    If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway.

    The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.

    Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway.

    In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.

    July 17, 2012 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • CC

      I have nothing to prove to fictional characters.

      July 17, 2012 at 9:46 pm | Report abuse |
  8. tpbco

    No one thinks that you do not care about the victims. They DO believe that you care more about your false idol and the fraud that he created in "Happy Valley". THIS is what enabled this travesty to go on for at least 14 YEARS

    Your posts hi-light that very clearly.

    July 17, 2012 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
  9. PedophileStateU

    I stand by my comment of not hiring a PSU grad or allowing him/her join my project. The students displayed their true colors when they rioted when Joe Pa was let go. They continue to display their true colors by supporting him and having their pictures taken with his statue as if he was some sort of rock star.

    July 17, 2012 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Outside Observer

      If you identify yourself I am sure 90% of peolpe will want to avoid working for such a judgemental person

      July 17, 2012 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
  10. asdf

    Nobody thinks PSU alums don't care – they just think they care about football MORE...just like Joe Pa.

    July 17, 2012 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
  11. David

    will tell my kids to study hard because they dont want to go to school with other kids who instead of going to the library camp outside to support a football coach, for a team that has not even been relevant the last 10 years, who would not confront a guy who molested kids for decades. The people and students who attend and support penn state need to get a grip on reality. You are making a mockery. You think kids in the Ivy League would do this? think about it...

    July 17, 2012 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Justyna

    As someone who grew up in that area and then attended PSU, I cannot express my sadness over this entire situation fully. Growing up I knew kids who were involved in Second Mile and it breaks my heart over and over again to know that some of them were possibly abused by this horrible man. It affects me to no end to know that the people I looked up to and trusted with my education were liars and thieves, robbing children of their innocence and in effect, put glaring black marks on all of us who have ever been associated with that school or area in general. That said, what no one seems to be talking much about is the fact that life must continue. People in that area rely on the school for their livelihood. Closing down the football program, even for one year, will negatively affect thousands of people who already live in strained financial situations. PSU football affects more than coaches and players – it affects the guy who makes his living driving the shuttle bus, it affects the local store owners who count on selling PSU merchandise to the tourists before and after games, it affects the pizza shop where I worked every home game day, frantically making and delivering food for students and locals. It affects many, many more people who count on this program to survive. Do I believe the program needs to be overhauled? Yes I do, but I also believe that this problem is much bigger than one university. The system failed these kids from the most basic of levels and that shutting down the program is not the answer.

    July 17, 2012 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
  13. asdf

    Anybody in the market for statues of pedo enablers? I got Paterno, the pope, and a few archbishops. Real nice stuff. Get 'em on the cheap, too.

    July 17, 2012 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Roundjohnvirgin

      Gimme a dozen. I set 'em up in front of a bluff and use 'em for target practise. Much more appropriate that those cheap-ass plaster busts of Elvis in a gold lame jacket...Elvis never did anything seriously wrong.

      July 17, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  14. tempertempertemper

    Anger Management Class?

    July 17, 2012 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Mike McC

    I haven't read the bad mouthed comments yet. I'll take your word for it that they are there. So I guess Penn State will just take the statue down then, right? Paterno was just as guilty as Sandusky so it's not event a debate about whether it's appropriate to leave the statue up there in memory of him. It needs to come down.

    July 17, 2012 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
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