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. Kobe

    What a disgrace. They need to remove the statue ASAP.

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

    They're a couple decades late but I guess it's better late than never.

    July 17, 2012 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Grinning Libber

    "Professional" college football should be shut down everywhere. It has no place in a university education. Go find your circuses elsewhere.

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

      How do you expect to pay for other sports at the university? How do you think the gymnastics team gets to travel?

      July 17, 2012 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
  4. diane

    Let the Paterno family put the statue in their front yard

    July 17, 2012 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • gatorbait

      Put the Paterno statue on an air force base on which pilots can train dropping bombs!

      July 17, 2012 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Mike

    They should just turn the statue so it looks the other way.

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

      well said

      July 17, 2012 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Hammerdown

    Take a Raggedy Andy doll and place it in front of the statue
    on its knees.
    Maybe then Penn State will get the message.

    July 17, 2012 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
  7. ginger

    I say tear down the Vatican while your at it.

    July 17, 2012 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • gatorbait

      Just dissolve the Vatican and have the Roman Catholic Seat be part of Italy and subject to its laws.

      July 17, 2012 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • CC

      Agreed! All religion though.

      July 17, 2012 at 9:14 pm | Report abuse |
  8. gordyb102

    Doing nothing is paramount to condoning the acts themselves. JoePa put the program above what counts most in life. H e stayed way too many years on the job and got caught up in his kingdom. He almost sounded senile in the interviews he did when the scandal broke. Erase everything associated with his name for his legacy has been tarnished forever.

    July 17, 2012 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
  9. ADZiegler

    It does not matter what the name is. There is not going to be any football games this year or for many years to follow.....

    July 17, 2012 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • G

      How much you want to bet on that?

      July 18, 2012 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
  10. drefromla

    cult's are dangerous. just look how many people at psu still believe in this creep?

    July 17, 2012 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Malakia

    TEAR IT DOWN NOW!!!

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

    Great job everyone in PA. I live in New Hampshire and think that anything Paterno needs to be taken off the face of the earth. He enabled Sandusky for 14 years, with NO regard to children, football was no important, that is sick. His family should be ashamed of him.

    July 17, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Grinning Libber

    It is clear that the university STILL does not get it. They are trying to pay off the victims on the cheap and shut them up.
    A huge purge of the administration and board is in order at least.

    July 17, 2012 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Tom

    Doesn't the banner read "Take the Statute Down or We Will" and not "Tear Down the Statute or We Will"...? CNN.com – why the blatant re-wording?

    July 17, 2012 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
  15. TOM

    Who had their way with all the boys ? Not Joe – JERRY !!!!!!!!!!!!!

    July 17, 2012 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mara

      yeah, Jerry did the deeds...but Joe KNEW and did as little as the law would allow. He, as a teacher/coach, should have notified the authorities, not kicked it up the ladder. That would have been the moral and ethical thing to do. Instead he supported the cover-up and the pedophile.

      Take the statue down.

      July 17, 2012 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Logic

      To paraphrase Turk 182, Jerry blew and who knew?

      July 17, 2012 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • CC

      But Joe knew what was going on and never told anyone and still let Jerry use the football facilities to abuse boys. read the report dumb dumb.

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