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

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 “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. Jim

    Hey Joe, does the "rot" go as deep at the students? Listen to yourself.

    July 17, 2012 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
  2. sam

    I grew up in western PA. PSU students and alumni are brain washed. Paterno is a god to them. I dont think there is another place or university like it in the world. Its insane. Football is a little game. Yeah its fun to play and watch, but its meaningless in the grand picture. All these guys associated should go down in flames and NCAA should at a bare minimum not allow PSU to play. Theyre also should be some investigating into their recruiting. What person in their right mind, especially a kid going here for football, would want to be associated with this?? yet they are still getting top recruits! something doesnt add up

    July 17, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • TheTruthInNews

      That's right it doesn't not add up. Sandusky fooled them all including Pensylvania social services with the approval of all his adoptions especially with the now alleged case where one of his own "adopted" children was abused. How about Pensylvania State, the DA, and the State College, PA public police departements for not fully investigating and making chages from the initial reports before the PSU locker room incident?

      July 17, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Angela

      It is called Penn State pride, Sam. You wouldn't understand. You are not one of us.

      July 17, 2012 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • murpis

      Sam, I think you are right. Angela just said you are not one of them. One of them? They must be a brainwashed cult. Glad we are NOT one of them. I consider us one of the lucky ones.

      July 17, 2012 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • ccccc

      Angela, pride, really? You are either ignorant of reality, or just an awful human being to have pride in what JoePa, the program, and many others from the university and state allowed. We arent talking about recruiting allegations, we are talking about the raping of trusting kids over the course of many years. After reading your comment, I'm closer to understanding how nazis had pride. Keep your confused feelings you call "pride", the rest of the world laughs at you.

      July 17, 2012 at 8:31 pm | Report abuse |
  3. TheTruthInNews

    Leave his statue up and just let the students and fans decide if they want to attend PSU or the future football games. It's all about the money. If the attendance drops due to the statue being there it will come down. Just because some a...hole with the money to rent a plane and a sign to express an single opinion is no reason to react by taking the memorial statue down. This decision rests upon PSU officials only. For those comparing this to the Catholic Church scandal, would you suggest taking down their religious statues? Let's see the crazies I tip with this comment!

    July 17, 2012 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • sly

      While we're at it, maybe we can erect a statue of Osama Bin Laden and put it at the site of the new World Trade Center?

      July 17, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • hankers

      first, it was not erected as a memorial statue, but rather to a living God. Second, your religious analogy is off base, otherwise they would be tearing down the goal posts and bleachers. The man enabled a pedofile to go on abusing boys under his watch. There is a price to be paid including loss of immortality.

      July 17, 2012 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Accurate

      Agree agree agree!!!!!!!

      July 17, 2012 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • angela

      I don't think you'll see the statue come down. Perhaps Joe's family should sue to get all the millions of dollars back he personally gave to the university.

      July 17, 2012 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Everlong

      It's all Jesus's fault.

      July 17, 2012 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
  4. sly

    Of course you tear down the statue. Paterno is almost as guilty as Sandusky. Obviously he knew everything -come on, he hung out with Sandusky for 15-20 years.

    July 17, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • amanda

      How about his wife? She knew Sandusky for probably at least 40 years! Nobody is blaming her for anything... Paterno told the people above him. Done.

      July 17, 2012 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike fromCalgary

      Unfounded speculation abides in too many silly commentaries.

      July 17, 2012 at 9:51 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Johnny America

    Somewhere in Florida, Bobby Bowden is slightly grinning.

    July 17, 2012 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
  6. BC

    harryhaller, your logic is faulty. The players, coaches and students aren't dependent children who rely on their criminal parents. They are completely independent of Paterno and those who failed. The correct analogy would be: We don't take away people's licenses because their parents got charged with DWI. Which is a fact. You should think about your analogies and whether they are appropriate altogether. Molestation is not on the same level as DWIs.

    July 17, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  7. t lobenstein

    Take down the statue? I am conflicted. What happened at Penn State is digusting. But acts that cross the line of logic, morality, and rationality have occurred universally acrosss the country at BCS schools, including (but not limited to) Florida State, Florida, the U, Ohio State, Michigan, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, USC, UCLA, and more. So shall we tear down all edifices to past heroes who have suffered disgraces late in their careets? Instead of singling out Joe Paterno for punishment, perhaps we need to abolish all sports at all universities!

    July 17, 2012 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
  8. hankers

    closing down the churches seems reasonable to me!

    July 17, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Portia

    Natalie...the moment that Mr. Paterno did NOT stop what was happening, those victims became his victims...All that needs for evil to flourish is for good men to do nothing...but, in this case, Paterno STOPPED them from going to the police...he was EVIL and self-serving

    July 17, 2012 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Accurate

      Wrong. But you knew that, didn't you?

      July 17, 2012 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
  10. jim66

    do what they did to the statue of Saddam hussein tie a rope around it and drag it thru the streets

    July 17, 2012 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Everlong

      This would sort of be relevant if it was a statue of Jerry Sandusky.... but it's not.

      July 17, 2012 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Portia

    Jim: Do you scream at your politicians to stop ALL wars because there will be innocents who get killed who had nothing to do with the war? If Penn State is not punished, then nothing has been learned...sorry for those students, but that is life...we all suffer for the bad deeds of others...

    July 17, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Everlong

      Yeah we need to punish the students and the rest of the University so that they will learn the lesson to never do..... wait.... what did they do wrong again? Nothing. It makes no sense to punish the entire University of 40,000 students because of the actions of a few.

      July 17, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • conoclast

      'Punishing' the 40,000? How many of those 40,000 happen to be there for an education and could care less about the fortunes of their over-bloated and utterly separate athletics department? College football has become-as amply displayed at Happy Valley-a sacred cow, answerable to NO code of ethics, internal or external. If this crime isn't ugly enough to merit an NCAA "death penalty" I'd like to know just what is!

      July 17, 2012 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ryan

      That is most likely because you don't know or understand NCAA rules

      July 17, 2012 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • rick ross the boss

      @everlong , life's not fair. What Sandusky did has harmed more than just the physical victims, including PSU students who had nothing to do with the scandal. But yes, it does suck for you.

      July 17, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • itwasntme

      Close down the football program. MSU football got killed off for paying players, where does this rank in comparison? The players will find a school to play for (and get their free education), the rest of the students are there for an education right? They won't care. The staff will find work elsewhere, too.

      July 17, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • angela

      Very well said.

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

      Apples/Oranges and totally an unworthy argument. Ridiculous. Put your pitchfork away before it pokes you in the eye.

      July 17, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bryan Micon

      People like you deserve to die. Zero Catholic churches were shut down and catholics didn't suffer any consequences. Penn State shouldn't be shut down either. Your assumption that we all must suffer for bad deeds of others is so twisted and backwards. Are you kidding me? I hope someone murders your entire family.

      July 17, 2012 at 7:12 pm | Report abuse |
  12. john houston

    if there were a God,there would be no pediphylls.The top Administrators need to resign effective needs to be suspended indefinitely and students need to get real and start studying to find a meaningful job.

    July 17, 2012 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Burbank

    Now if we can just get the same level of outrage going against the Catholic church for protecing ped priests everytihing will start changing for the better!

    July 17, 2012 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Budreaux

    How about a new and better statue with him bent over picking up a bar of soap. Those who still worship him could take turns at this Penn State alter.

    July 17, 2012 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
  15. GeorgeBos95

    "This is pathetic," wrote Janessa Bednash. "Read the report. There is no evidence to determine Joe had a hand in covering this up."

    Wow ... what a clueless bunch attending Penn.

    We've read the report, "honey". Freeh's report is damning when it comes to Paterno's role in the cover up. Wake the f–k up. Your (and others) blind support of Paterno is what's pathetic.

    July 17, 2012 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Accurate

      How completely easy it is to demonize a man who is dead, instead of demonizing the current governor, who had the absolute power to stop Sandusky, but didn't. Why? Is Corbett a pedo, too? They all know each other, you know.

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