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. Bernie

    I believe Paterno should be exhumed and present at these legal proceedings.

    July 17, 2012 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
  2. disgusted

    shame and disgrace to everyone involved directly or indirectly in this crime. let everyone examine their inner minds and thoughts by placing themselves in the position of those children. what would you have?

    July 17, 2012 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Patrick Lewis

    The football program should be given the death penalty. This is far more important than some kid getting a car and a paycheck.

    July 17, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Gene

    It should be taken down, if not, maybe they should just spin it around so it memorializes him "looking the other way" for all those years

    July 17, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  5. laeinstein

    The statue not only should be kept but be made mandatory viewing as a reminder that the pathological relationship this country has with its celebrities and sport figures which lead to the disastrous decision made by Penn State of selling its soul for the sake of maintaining its inflated importance of a football program

    July 17, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • TheThinker

      ... that's actually a pretty good idea. I concur.

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

    Why would you want to punish the students and players by cancelling the season? What possible good could that do? Because of the actions of a few you would punish a whole university. I don's see the logic in that at all.

    July 17, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • TheThinker

      Why cancel the season? Uh, maybe to show that this is serious? Maybe to push the "reset" button on the lemming fans, and kick the boosters in the $ so the other colleges where this is happening will take note.

      July 17, 2012 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Phil (D.C.)

    Photo caption fail.

    July 17, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  8. jenny

    Hey, pilot......you are awesome....it's refreshing to see and hear that someone in the cult society at PSU is tarting to get it.....sorry to hear there are some still brainwashed.....but Mr. Pilot keep up the good work and determination and hopefully maybe one day the board will grow a pair and do the right thing...

    July 17, 2012 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Katt Williams

    How come African Americans should'nt be compensated for past slavery??? Every other race has been compensated. Looks like whites have been the ones on welfare for hundreds of years

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

      because no slave is still alive today, you imbecile

      July 17, 2012 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Joel

    The decision on removing the statue can be deferred a couple of years if the NCAA issues the "death penalty" on the football program and they (Penn State) shutters the stadium for a season or two.

    July 17, 2012 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
  11. BC

    As a Penn Stater, I get removing the statue and I'm ok with it. Yeah, we all defended Paterno and we got burned for it. But lesson learned. You can't kill the program for the year. You can't give the death penalty. You're punishing the sons for the sins of the father. Every person at Penn State will be negatively affected by taking away football. Football pays for educations. It pays for salaries. It pays for other sports programs. Players will leave. Students will leave. Bill O'Brien will probably even leave. It's like punishing everyone in a town because a murdered lived there. Look at what happened at SMU. That entire university has still yet to recover from a punishment 20 years ago.

    July 17, 2012 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
  12. sbest

    I find this to be a silly conversation, the reason that Penn State has the amount of scholarships, students, facilities, etc is because of Joe Paterno and that is why i believe he deserves to have his statue remain. Prior to his death he was considered to be a demi god by many of the same people turning on him, its funny how people change when the don't have a chance to be confronted.

    July 17, 2012 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
  13. yup!

    If Paterno is someone you idolized and had an influence on you, then your dad did not do a good job.

    July 17, 2012 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
  14. drome007

    In addition – THERE IS EVIDENCE THAT PATERNO DID KNOW ABOUT SANDUSKY'S ABUSE TO THESE KIDS!
    Read the news people! Investigators announced this about a week ago that Paterno KNEW about the 1998 child abuse case and future allegations...HELLO?!? Red flags anyone??!

    July 17, 2012 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Eric

    PSU should build a statue of Sandusky, with his mouth open, kneeling at the foot of Joe Paterno!

    July 17, 2012 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
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