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. BC

    Portia, you have just successfully justified the 9/11 attacks...

    July 17, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Accurate

      ~~~~~rolling eyes~~~~~

      July 17, 2012 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  2. goinToJackson

    Did Janessa BEDNASH read the REPORT?

    July 17, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      In ass seriousness, did you read the report. Anything dealing with Paterno was characterized as a "reasonable conclusion"..Read "assumption". Basically, the former FBI director conducted a $12M investigation with full access to university email and records, and the best he could come up with was assumptions on what paterno knew or did.
      Let's find some facts before we remove a statue.
      The man spent 61 years at Penn State and conducted himself in a manner that always put the well being of the kids on his teams above his win total. If he's going to hold a star player out of a bowl game for missing A class, so that the kid will learn responsibility, it's a giant leap to think he would participate in a cover-up of molestation crimes against kids.

      July 17, 2012 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Skibo2000

    Haha these students remind me of the Texas aggies. They worship Paterno like the aggies worship that damn dog. It's like one massive cult.

    July 17, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Angela

    The recent banner flying over my head as I try to work here on campus is enough! I have had it! You people with your negative comments about my university, my place of employment and my statue of JoePa need to let it go! The person who committed these horrendous crimes and heinous tragedies is in jail for the rest of his life and Joe is dead. If you think you can bully us into taking down our statue you do not know Penn State. We will not back down to cowards who hide behind faceless words on a computer screen. You don't live here. You are not one of us. And you did not know Joe. Stay out of it. You can badmouth this University, You can blow up the statue but you will never take the Paterno out of Penn State. Joe's spirit is here and it always will be and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it. NOTHING! Let us alone! We will always love him. Joe admitted in his dying words he should have done more. You can cast a stone at a dead man seeking forgiveness or you can let him die in peace. But, mind you, if you decide to cast that stone don't you dare ever seek forgiveness for your self or one you love and expect to get it.

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

      Hi, Angela, I can sense your frustration and your anger. How bout telling that to the kids that JoePa and McQuery and your AD knew about. Letting them on campus with the Pedophile.. that's why people are in your business. So you wake up.

      July 17, 2012 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • recycle1970 not feeling so much for the victims and their families. Sorry, maybe there should not be a Penn State if you seriously believe what you just wrote. It was disgusting.

      July 17, 2012 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • northernCA

      you need to get a life outside your precious insulated world and realize there are REAL VICTIMS here that you do not seem to give a darn about. Quit your little pitty party you poor little baby

      July 17, 2012 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Roundjohnvirgin

      Hey lady, haven't you heard? You and your precious job are now at Pederast State. Be proud, be very proud.....

      July 17, 2012 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sirhc

      We don't need forgiveness lady. We never assisted, along with other higher ups, in covering up a child molestation scandal for the sake of the image of a football program. And if you think this just started in the late 90s you're so far off it's ridiculous. How many years did Sandusky ACTUALLY get away with this. Your part of the culture there, just burying your head in the sand, deifying a flawed man. Your blindness, and those exactly like you, is the exact reason this was allowed to continue for so long. If the statue doesn't come down, EVERY home game SATURDAY the media will get a nice shot of that statue, and whether you like it or not, the image of that will not bring up a memorial feeling for the victims, it will shed a negative light on your university, because it will be associated with the travesty that was this entire situation. If you really believe in changing the culture there, then the best thing to do is to move on from all things Paterno. That statue will be a lightning rod until it is removed, you can't have security guard it forever. No one is saying he didn't do some great things in his life, but some things are unforgiveable, and i shall cast as many stones as i see fit.

      July 17, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ken

      There are many sayings in the world that hold true in this situation. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree, Shadow of the Leader, monkey see monkey do, like father like son, power corrupts, follow the leader, corruption of one is corruption of all, etcetera.... Basically they all try to say that when leaders are corrupt / immoral, then those below them are often just as corrupt or immoral. That applies to the Students of Penn State. When the top people in the university have been shown to make decisions to benefit the school (and indirectly themselves) over young men, you have to wonder how deep does this corruption run? When the university keeps trying to protect the legand of Papa Joe to some degree because it's so important to them and the cash flowing into their coffers, they continue to show that the corruption and lack of morals is more deeply ingrained in the universities culture than people suspect. There choices are keep the statue and please diehard alumnus making big donations while letting the university and students look as they are uncaring fools, or remove the statue and take a strong stand for the students but lose the cash flow. They've picked keep the cash so far. So you have nothing to blame but yourself for going to good old PU (we can drop the S in the nickname now, PU is much better). Everywhere the students go looking for jobs, people will look at them and the PU degree and find reasons to pass them by. Oh you'll get jobs, just not the better class jobs with better class companies. And all because the university leaders are more concerned with their image and cash flow as opposed to what their primary focus should be, educating students. Your best bet is to transfer as soon as possible, before even that becomes a challenge.

      July 17, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Builders844

      Silence in this type of crime makes you as guilty as the perpetrator. If Joe had lived you would have seen this in action. Joe isn't a hero he is guilty by his silence. This could have been stopped with his and everyone Else's action at Penn state. Don't think so??? ask one of the victims that wouldn't have been

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

      Get over yourself Angela. I'm a PA resident whose tax dollars pay your salary. I have every right in the world to have strong opinions about this.

      July 17, 2012 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Accurate

    Well, you had me up until the time you compared JoePa with Jesus....

    July 17, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Silver Back

    @ Daniel, are you serious?! "Americans are the most vicous." Do you not see the what goes on in the rest of the world? Sure America has it problems but dude, your a dork if you think that. Go live in one of the third world country's then post your comment again. Dork!

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

    Paterno did 99% good, but the 1% he did bad (for the past atleast 15+ years covering and supporting Sandusky) is off-the-charts.....for all those who have children imagine what you'd think about Paterno if Sandusky did this to your children. Now ask – "should the statue come down".

    Paterno in the end was all about himself.....he was a power-hungry corrupt person who should be rotting in hell.

    July 17, 2012 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Accurate

      People like you have no clue what goes on withing a university power structure, and you are giving JoePa way more power than he actually held. The person you should be spitting your v e n o m at is still alive. Spit act HIM!!! So easy to bash a person who is dead, isn't it? From the beginning, Joe got more press than the actual pervert that did the crimes.....and even in death, you want to punish him more than Sandusky!

      July 17, 2012 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • goinToJackson

      You tell 'em Ray. Right on. bring it.

      July 17, 2012 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
  8. conoclast

    Don't 'take it down'. Simply turn the thing so that it faces the other way, just like in real life.

    July 17, 2012 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Michael

    Someone made a great point yesterday on sports radio: They said that Joe's statue will take on the same stigma as the Confederate flag. I can smell the "Heritage Not Hypocrisy" talk brewing now. Don't tear it down. Put it in a less prominent place on campus. Paterno has lost prominence.

    July 17, 2012 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Deiterate

    Personally, when I went to PSU, I was oblivious to the football. I was too busy getting the wonderful education that the University offers to pay attention to any of the team-sports rah rah that was going on. Unfortunately, to many others, college sports is such a big thing and does have an impact on a University's reputation, regardless of the quality of education offered. How about more statues of prominent scholars instead?

    July 17, 2012 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Michael

    On Penn St. and the Freeh Report: They should voluntarily shutdown the football program for two years. It will pain them on a significant level and give opportunity to reorganize and reevaluate the values of the university. Yes, they are football as most of us have known it. But they are supposed to be a school first. Teach thyself. Not as profound as shattered innocence but it will be hollowing for that campus and it's alum. If Florida A&M can shutdown it's famed Marching Band, this not a huge leap.

    July 17, 2012 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Alex

    But the truth is Paterno is dead and he did not get a chance to defend himself. It is not justice to take unilateral action.
    Now the Paterno family can sue for libel.

    July 17, 2012 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • northernCA

      Alex – the Paterno family estate will most probably be sued by many of the victims

      July 17, 2012 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  13. dependabledriver

    I say dig up that child molesting old fool and feed his corpse to the hogs.

    July 17, 2012 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Mopery

    If they keep Joe Pa's statue they need to add a statue of Sandusky sitting on Paterno's finger, with a big grin on his face.

    July 17, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
  15. SammyDaBull

    Sure am glad it wasn't my child molested. I would be sitting in jail now.

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