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. LeJohn Brames

    PAterno should forfeit his record collegiate win record too, since quite a few occurred after he knew of this issue.

    July 17, 2012 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
  2. JL

    So the fact that Paterno or any of the other officials didn't call the police is lost on you?

    July 17, 2012 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Walter Merritt

    14 years of apparent cover up should equal 14 years of the death penalty. If the 40 years is true based on the latest accusers then shut it down for 40 years. PSU needs to suffer just that tiny fraction of what the PSU administrators and coaches allowed to happen to those little kids.

    July 17, 2012 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Ray

    Betsy,
    So obvious you are drinking the "Penn State" kool-aid.....you really think Happy Valley is anything significant in this country....it's nothing.....you have to look beyond your insignificant univesity AND JoeJerk & see that he ATLEAST covered for Sandusky for 15+ years & put your own children in it and ask – what should be done to JoeJerk who covered for this monster.......wake up girl

    July 17, 2012 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • jents71

      Its unfortunate that Penn State used Joe paterno as its school image for as long as it did.. There are 100's if not 1000's of alumnis who have gone out and made a large difference in this world in humanitarian and technological impacts and yet people who went to school there are mad that some old codger that coached football for much longer than he should have stayed around, became incompetant and allowed children to be molested because he either didnt want to believe it, or because the football program was more important... Even Bobby Bowden, one of the true alltime great coaches, retired when it was time and agreed that the lasting legacy of paterno would be negative...

      July 17, 2012 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hinterarsch

      Only a clean slatewill have a chance for Penn State. Until that time, Penn State will always be remembered as the Pedophile University.

      July 17, 2012 at 5:46 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Vic

    First off I am a PSU alum. I am not an apologist in this, but I am still trying to cope with all of this and form my own unbiased opinion of things. That said, canceling the season would have many impacts. It will have from an emotional viewpoint the desired outcome of reparations on the universities part. On the other hand, it will screw over the economy of the entire central PA region which imo is enough of a reason not to cancel the season. Sure, you might think the university, its students, its athletes etc should have to pay for the actions of JoePa and company, but why should all of central PA? The town of state college itself is full of mom and pops that rely on the commerce generatd from the university. To hurt Penn State out of rage filled emotions, while it might seem "just" in your eyes, is pretty short sighted. Because you will hurt more then just Penn State. Two wrongs dont make a right.

    July 17, 2012 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • James

      So Penn State football according to some is now too big to fail?

      If you cancel season, entire PA economy falters...?

      July 17, 2012 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • angela

      Thank you for your comment. I have family who own a small business in State College and 1/3 of their yearly income is from home football games. They are scared financially from all this mess. They should not have to suffer because of others.

      July 17, 2012 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • james648

      ah?.. I think you are saying "PSU football is just too big than the pain and horror those boys went through and are going through for the rest of their lives?". Maybe you have a 11 or 12 year old boy or girl? Would PSU football be ok with you if Sandusky had his way with one of your children? Really? You think all the mom's and dad's you mention would ok with PSU football if perhaps one of their children had been a victim of Sandusky?

      July 17, 2012 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hinterarsch

      Eras everthing that Paterno built. The only way out. Until hat happens it will always be teh Pedophile Home of the wrst kind and Paterno should be erased from Penn State History.

      July 17, 2012 at 5:44 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Unbelievable

    Seems Joe got a whiff of this in 1998. He should have spared no expense and found out if his defensive coordinator was a pedophile then. Instead he covered his ears and even after the 2001 incident, he let others deal with it. His implicit LACK of action was taken as a cue by the PSU toadies (who should have been in charge) to do nothing. THAT is why JoPA is to be reviled. LACK of ACTION if nothing else. Or are you saying he was too stupid to read the signs?

    July 17, 2012 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michael Xavier

      You do realize that, in 1998, the police, DA, and Child Services were all involved in the investigation. Child Services professionals interviewed Sandusky and the child and determined that there was no criminal activity.

      July 17, 2012 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
  7. TomR

    Revenues from the football program pay for all of the other collegiate sports such as: Womens Golf, Gymnastics, Soccer, Baseball, Tennis AND employs student clubs at the games. This is the same at all universities. It is impossible to shut down the football program without shutting down all NCAA sports and student clubs. Local businesses depend heavily on visitors as a result of the football program. Tons of places will go out of business...hotels, restaurants, bars, souvenir shops. The communities that surround other universities who host PSU games will lose tons of revenue who are counting on visitors. Not defending if the university should shut the program or not, but people need to understand how many people it will negatively impact. Make the university donate a percentage of the revenue for every game to a certain charity every week. Use the football program to make a positive change....

    July 17, 2012 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
  8. nadinesh

    It's interesting to see the Penn State community tussling about how they want to go on. This is a decision for THEM to make, not me, not you. And certainly not Bowden, who should just keep on eye on his eye on his own football. Why shouldn't their program go on? It's not like they're being accused of recruiting violations. And I don't see what one thing has to do with the other. There's a great lesson to be learned from this about letting the inmates run the asylum, true scholarly demeanor and checks and balances. Maybe they are getting that. If they decide to shut down football, even for a limited time, again, that should be THEIR choice.

    July 17, 2012 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
  9. xfiler93

    the entire university should be razed. and they knew about this since the 70'S? sickening.

    July 17, 2012 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Byrd

    Sorry, Joe, but you blew it, not us. The statue should be torn down. End of story for the Father of No.

    July 17, 2012 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Uncle Skoshi

    Joe Paterno betrayed Penn State and everyone else when he turned a blind eye to the criminal perversions of his "friend." If he didn't know, he should have, and if he did know (and we all know he did) he is a coward. Tear down the statue and rewrite the history. JoePa was a coward.

    July 17, 2012 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Unbelieveable

      Really??? He should have known? You are kidding of course because then we should all know about the pedophile in our families and our neighborhoods and we don't. Make intelligent statements not emotional ones.

      July 17, 2012 at 5:42 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Sam

    Who in good conscience wants a statue of an enabler of a horrific crime around? Take it down

    July 17, 2012 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Expatinsf

    Tear down the pedophile enabler's statue NOW!

    July 17, 2012 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
  14. mrlucky11

    I'd like to make two points ...
    1) There is no need for the NCAA to punish PSU and the football program. These kids had nothing to do with what was going on in the showers between JS and the poor children. That's what the justice system is for – and it has handed down a decision to punish the main culprit – Sandusky. Plus, there's more to come. The fired leaders at PSU will have there time in court soon enough. Believe me, they will get theirs.

    2) To those of you true (nittany) blue fans that continue to defend, and make excuses for JoPa, STOP IT! You are wrong. If you think that there was never a private moment when Paterno had the oportunity to ask "Jerry, what the heck were you doing in there?" then you are sadly mistaken. There are sins of commission AND ommission and Paterno was wrong for not speaking up. You defending him makes as much sense as defending Hitler after WWII – after all, he wasn't the one running the showers. I know it's hard to accept the fall of a great hero – but it has happened, and it happened to you. Move on. Tear down the statue!

    July 17, 2012 at 5:37 pm | Report abuse |
  15. nokoolaidcowboy

    1. Take down statue.
    2. Put it on eBay.
    3. Donate proceeds to child abuse organization.
    4. Train employees on how to handle such matters in the future.

    July 17, 2012 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
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