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. rctiger1

    Closing the football program affects more then just the students or alumni, it affects all who follow psu as their team. Why close it down makes zero sense to me. I fail to see how not allowing the psu football fans from all over the country a Saturday for example to watch a game, has anything to do with a criminal prosecution of Sandusky or any other involved. I guess then Germany should not be allowed an Olympic team seeing hitler used the Berlin games for propoganda before the holocaust, right. Chruch and state are separate, so is football from the actions of a diaper sniper.

    July 17, 2012 at 6:34 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Old96er

    I am a Penn State alumnus and lifelong football fan and I strongly support the removal of Joe's statue, as well as the cancellation of the 2012 season. Most Penn Staters I've talked with agree. The best way to demonstrate how angry we are that these heinous crimes occurred (and were not stopped) and to show how committed we are to changing our beloved school's now-blemished reputation is to put the victims' interests where they belong: far ahead of football.

    July 17, 2012 at 6:37 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Dinwiddie

    Is abusing kids part of your culture too ???????? It should be sold on E-bay and the money given to those abused...

    Football needs to be only a history course at Penn State...

    July 17, 2012 at 6:48 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Josh

    I am so tired of people commenting that it’s not fair to punish the players and students who had nothing to do with scandal by taking away the football program. That is life. If you don’t understand that then consider this simple analogy which illustrates how sometimes those who do the right thing are negatively impacted when others chose to do the wrong thing:

    Say, for example, the speed limit on a very busy road is 45 miles per hour. Over a period of time, many accidents, including some major ones, have happened on this road. As a result, city authorizes decide to lower the speed limit to 35 for an indefinite period of time. Drivers who obeyed the speed limit are upset because they followed the law and dislike the slower speed. They have two choices, either obey the new speed limit sign or take a different route.

    Those at Penn State, who will be upset if the football program is suspended indefinitely or for a set period of time, have two choices: they can accept the punishment/consequences that resulted from the egregious actions of others, or they can take a different route-leave Penn State. That is how life works.

    July 17, 2012 at 6:50 pm | Report abuse |
  5. jack

    what's all the fuss about, the guy who committed the crime is behind bars, that's all that matters. None of these other people harmed any kids. People are so bent on destroying others, passing final judgement, so eager to tear down and not forgive. They want to destroy a mans 46 year career over one little incident that he had nothing to do with. Ok, he could have done more, he admits that, but this should not define him. Would you like one mistake or oversight of yours to define your whole life, all of your accomplishments? We got the perpetrator, he wont' be hurting anyone else. Move on folks.

    July 17, 2012 at 6:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • RogueAries

      It was a 14 year oversight.

      July 17, 2012 at 7:15 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Dinwiddie

    It is way more than Jerry Sandusky, there was/is a huge cover up on the part of directors and the whole program should be shut down for good... Football can't be more important than the lives of those poor innocent kids... They should be made an example for many generations... Make the wrong choices and the whole program is GONE !! I have no pity... and will never watch another 'game' The lowest level employees at PennState have more common sense than this board of directors... all of which need to resign... shamefull

    July 17, 2012 at 7:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bryan Micon

      According to this logic, every Catholic church should be shut down. 1 in 6 Americans have been molested, and I'm guessing you're one of them. Daddy must have really made your little bum hurt. Waaaah waaah.

      July 17, 2012 at 7:17 pm | Report abuse |
  7. RogueAries

    "exceptance" letter? You are a senior? WOW thanks for showing everyone what is important at Penn state.

    July 17, 2012 at 7:14 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Bryan Micon

    Where were you guys when the Pope covered up the Catholic church scandal? Zero churches were shut down and you didn't condemn every Catholic on the planet.

    July 17, 2012 at 7:16 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Tr1Xen

    I agree. The statue needs to go. Penn State needs to cleanse itself of everything related to this scandal if it ever hopes to regain its good reputation.

    July 17, 2012 at 7:16 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Voice of Reason

    Joe Paterno supports child rapings.....Penn State students support supporters of child rapings.....

    July 17, 2012 at 7:24 pm | Report abuse |
  11. timtom

    relax people, she meant to say "expectance litter"

    July 17, 2012 at 7:30 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Vic

    To James, no I am not saying that PSU football is too big to fail. I'm saying people need to look at the broader implications of shutting PSU football down. It will have more then just your emotionally desired effect. Like it or not, the surrounding economy of thousands of people thrive off business related to the university. This is a different viewpoint and not one that comes from the cult of personality arround joepa. Its the honest fact. Close it down and business will suffer causing more victims of this horrendous situation. Why do we need to create more victims?

    July 17, 2012 at 7:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Futaki

      Years ago, SMU had school violations that would look like a Sunday picnic compared to what happened at PSU. Yet they paid a big penalty according to NCAA rules. Why shouldn't PSU pay a big penalty? This is the worst scandal to happen in the history of collegiate sports.

      July 17, 2012 at 8:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeremy

      Penn State has a $1.83 Billion endowment. It's largest ever as of the fall of 2011.

      Maybe they can tap into that fund to subsidize the surrounding community while the Football program takes a hiatus for a few years. That would be a fitting punishment.

      Your argument is akin to not putting a murderer in prison because his family will have noone to support them. PSU deserves whatever punishment it gets, and although it's unfortunate others in the surrounding community will suffer financially as a result, PSU has to be made an example of. A situation like this CAN'T happen again.

      July 17, 2012 at 8:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • james648

      Vic, to me your point of view is parallel to that of Joe Paterno,Tim Curley and Graham Spanie; which was don't dare do anything that might hurt the football program. Too many would suffer. I'll stand firm with my moral point of view, there is no greater suffering than what happened to those boys, all knowing a lot of them would not have suffered if it were not for the inaction of Paterno, Curley, and Spanie. The football program needs to be ended and those that suffer economically from it's shutdown should easily find peace knowing there was and still is far more suffering than they will ever imagine.

      July 17, 2012 at 9:01 pm | Report abuse |
  13. What did you say

    Growing up I remember how me and many of my friends thought the J. Edgar Hoover was like the coolest man alive. He was the head of the FBI, he caught all those bad guys... what was not to like about him? Now, since we know about the real man.. I guess I am a little ashamed of looking up to him.
    My point? These fans may be upset now, but as time goes by, and we find out more... we will probably be a little embarrassed.

    July 17, 2012 at 7:34 pm | Report abuse |
  14. SSampson

    Melt it down – bury it at see....

    Let the Paterno famil keep the money.....They'll need it to pay the lawsuits out....

    After they are sued into the ground, don't give them a dime when you pass thm on the street with their tin cup...

    July 17, 2012 at 7:39 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Tango Bear

    There is no defending Penn State football in this matter. Sandusky is an evil convicted felon. When he left the program (fired?) how many other football programs requested his services, the great defensive coach, the heir apparent to Paterno? The answer is none. Why? Because the entire college football coaching community knew he was dirty. When you are looking for your devils to burn, perhaps you should look a little further than just Penn State.

    July 17, 2012 at 7:48 pm | Report abuse |
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