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. Phil Spectre

    Penn State should close their doors. This is a snowball train wreck out of control. The entire university and the students are responsible. Close the doors. All scholarships are canceled.

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

      Punish everybody..

      The students
      the teachers
      the guy who cuts the lawn
      the grocery clerk who sells Penn State bumper stickers
      everybody who has ever watched a Penn State game on TV
      your mom, because she has a Penn State t-shirt
      the guy who lives down the stret from Penn sate

      blah blah blah....ignorant moron.

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

      I'd never hire anyone from Pedo State now. It's over.

      July 17, 2012 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Eric the Commenter

    Yes, he could have prevented ~15 lives from being permanently haunted & scarred, but he won a lot of football games! We love you Joe Pa!

    July 17, 2012 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • David

      Eric the commenter, i wish you son (if you have one) was molested by Sandusky and see if you still keep the same stupid comment you just made.

      July 17, 2012 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Grinning Libber

      That sarcasm is too deep for some.

      July 17, 2012 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hugh Jass

      Yeah, they were just kids. Screw 'em. Who cares, right?

      July 17, 2012 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
  3. patiat

    It's astonishing how many people prioritize football over little kids' safety. That pleasure of rallying around OTHER dudes who play a game really does allow people to shut out much more important things.

    July 17, 2012 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Mike

    And still there are those who defend Paterno and his lack of action in this disgusting situation at Penn State. How sad. Paterno of course didn't participate in the abuse of those kids, but neither did he do anything to stop it when he learned about it. I respected him, but now I am greatly disappointed that he did nothing, along with the other university officials. There's more to the world than just football.

    July 17, 2012 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Portia

      Mike...read the report...Paterno DID do something...he actively Stopped those in power from doing the right thing...and, for that alone he should be castigated forever

      July 17, 2012 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Eric

    They need to eliminate the PSU football program for the foreseeable future. The highest leadership at PSU has sacrificed th lives of helpless children on the altar of their football gods, Paterno and Sandusky. The only way to exorcise these football gods is to kill the program. Nothing else suffices.

    July 17, 2012 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Swag Master

    Sandusky was pimping these kids out to the financially and politically elite. Everyone at Penn State knows this. Close the place down and turn it into a park.

    July 17, 2012 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Portia

      I thought that from the beginning of this scandal, but I am afraid that nothing will ever be done to find that out...this was going on for decades and there are many more involved...

      July 17, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Dave

    Tear down that statue!

    July 17, 2012 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Richard

    Rename it Perv Plaza.

    July 17, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    It makes me wonder, what did Sandusky have on Joe and others that they wouldn't report him and that's probably something we'll never know because any statement from Sandusky would hold no credibility. I just can't imagine this happening, being reported and hushed.

    July 17, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Joe B-b-b-b-bob

    America is going down the drain. It's about WINNING - that's what Paterno and Sandusky did. THEY WON STUFF. If a few kids got sodomized, hey, NOTHING GREAT GETS DONE WITHOUT SOME COLLATERAL DAMAGE. Everybody just needs to GET THEIR HEAD RIGHT AND FORGET ALL THIS AND GET BACK TO WINNING. Bunch of wuss pot-smoking liberal crybabies. . . .

    July 17, 2012 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • sly

      I agree Joe B-b-b-b-b-bob ... bunch of wusses.

      American's got all up in a stir about 9/11 as well - they should've just sucked it up and accepted it, and erected a statue of Osama Bin Laden where the Twin Towers were,

      Right?

      July 17, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • CC

      I bet you would be singing a different tune if you or a loved one was molested. I'm assuming you're just a dumb kid that is trolling. HOwever this doesn't change the fact that you sir, are an idiot.

      July 17, 2012 at 9:09 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Mark

    Maybe buildings, murals, statues of Vicky Triponey should be put up... The person that maintained integrity throughout and was squashed like a bug and driven out of academia for it.

    July 17, 2012 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hugh Jass

      Ever hear of Jan Kemp?

      July 17, 2012 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Ben23

    The only way we can give justice to all of Paterno's victims is by completely removing Paterno's name and legacy from Penn State. His statute should be removed, his name should be wiped out from any plaques or awards and his image should be Photoshopped out from any team picture he is in. Paterno is a monster

    July 17, 2012 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Natalie

      These are not Paterno's victims.

      July 17, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cody

      Amen.

      July 17, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Rocky

    When this is over, every person on the PSU board will have resigned or fired. Everyone who came within 100 miles of this scandal will be gone. I dont know "what Joe knew and what he did", but I can tell you that PSU football will never be the same in your lifetime. You can call it "Paternoville" or "Nittanyville" or whatever, but the days of PSU bigtime football are over.

    July 17, 2012 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Tess

    Take away the football program? Why? The athletes didn't do it; the revenue that pours in from that football team helps keep PS's other athletic teams afloat. Wipe JoePa's name from everything? Really? What did his Freshman athletic award have to do with anything? If we're going to play the hindsight game, let's play it right; Sandusky's mother should have had an abortion!!
    SANDUSKY DID IT!!!!

    July 17, 2012 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
  15. John

    Paternoville? Nittanyville? Try LOSERVILLE.

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