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. Myto Senseworth

    Football is a waste of time and money. There is too much focus on the "cash cow". I would like to see people cheering for the real students, not the jocks. .... Most bad things in the news about schools is centered on the sports programs.

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

    Give the Penn St football program the electric chair, and melt the Paterno statue.

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

    I work for country's largest consulting company. As an executive I will recommend "pass" on any PSU applicants. For those that are already hired I will not let them join my project and make them sit on the bench.

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

      How absolutely stupid! I see you being laid off in your future.

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

      All that tells us is that you are self-righteous and stupid.

      July 17, 2012 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • BC

      Haha not a very good executive if you have nothing better to do than comment on a cnn story about a school you have no ties to in the middle of the work day.
      the new hire

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

      I still have not seen any definitive evidence that proves Joe knew and covered up. So many people believe whatever the television is telling them without thinking for themselves. Show me the proof.

      July 17, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gonna go ahead and call BS on that

      It's fun to talk big on the internet. For example, I work for the King of Mexico!

      July 17, 2012 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Buck

      First, no you don't work for the world's largest consulting company let alone any sort of executive position. If you did, you would have enough brain power to realize how pathetic and pointless it is to punish PSU students that had nothing to do with the Sandusky scandal.

      July 17, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      why would you not hire a PSU graduate? what does a poor student who in good faith spent hard earned money for his/her degree have to do with a corrupt university? Words cannot express how strongly i feel about the PSU coaching staff and executives but why would you punish a poor student/graduate?

      July 17, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kevin H

      I find the hate-bating, rather ignorant response of some in these mostly anonymous posts to be most disgusting. A horrible thing occurred at Pennsylvania State University. That does not mean that everyone at the school – faculty, staff or students were all involved. That's like painting all Germans as Nazis or all Southerners as racist – it's simply another -ism. How foolish not to hire people simply because of the school they attended. If that type of short-sightedness is the nature of your hiring practices I'd say – let's reconsider you and your company. Any organization that doesn't have the common sense to differentiate these things wouldn't be one I'd wish to do business with in any case.

      July 17, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • PSU Alum

      Wow, you sure know how to talk the talk and brag about your big, important job. How about you post your email address and we'll see how much your top consulting company employer supports your ignorant opinions once they find out you're developing illegal hiring policies all by yourself. My guess is you'll be fired within 24 hours.

      July 17, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • yeah, sure you are.


      I work for country's largest consulting company. As an executive I will recommend "pass" on any PSU applicants. For those that are already hired I will not let them join my project and make them sit on the bench."
      The hell you do, liar. You're just a basement-dwelling troll. Nobody really from McKinsey & Company would blame students or prospective hires for the actions of a few, or reject applicants on such a basis.

      Not even a nice try; go back under the bridge and stroke your molting nose.

      July 17, 2012 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rational Minded

      Your consulting firm would be better off without you. What an over reaction. Painting with such a broad brush! Please tell the name of your firm.

      July 17, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • PSUalum2000

      Thanks for the feedback, that just means we all get more of the most educated and respectable employees in the nation. Like a student had anything to do with this....seriously....

      July 17, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • PSU99

      So...........let me get this straight, you work for a consulting firm as an executive and you will pass on a prospective employee based on the fact that they got there education at Penn State. That's incredibly faulty logic and makes no sense. Why would you punish a graduate from a school that had nothing to do with Sandusky's crimes or the cover-up? I'm assuming that you are not a very valued employee at your firm. I mean seriously, I suppose you are judging Paterno, Curley, Spanier and Schultz for there lack of judgement and and extremely poor thought process that led to there actions. In my opinion, your illogical and immature decision is simply sad and pathetic for any adult working for any company.

      July 17, 2012 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
  4. AidaO

    I think they should melt down the current Paterno statue and cast a new one of him looking more somber.

    On the one hand, the current statue of Paterno celebrating now seems out of place (and offensive to some). On the other hand, Paterno is a part of Penn State's history and nothing can change that. This would be a more accurate reflection of Paterno post-scandal and would be a reminder that an otherwise successful person will be brought down by the bad choices they make.

    July 17, 2012 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
  5. playboy millionaire

    Whether Paterno's actions (or lack thereof) are criminal or not, no one is commending him. And most people who did not attend PSU only know him for what he did or didn't do in relation to the recent child molestation scandal. But even for those of us who know all of the good that he did over the course of his life and all of the hundreds if not thousands of kids he truly helped, it is unfortunately all overshadowed by the harm he indirectly caused these victims. A statute of Paterno no longer represents a hero, it represents a coward. But in a way, keeping the statute in place would serve as a reminder of what not to do in the future, and maybe help prevent this type of atrocity.

    July 17, 2012 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
  6. anon

    People at Penn state are sick for sticking up for Paterno. beyond selfish, just as vile as Paterno and Sandusky

    July 17, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Terry

    "What happened is sad and should never be forgotten but the truth is tearing down a statue wont change anything 40 years from now Paterno will be remember not for this scandal but for the many successful years he coached at Penn State"

    I had to read that twice – what planet are you on? I suppose you remember Nixon for the ERA amendment. I used to hail Joe Paterno as the greatest coach of all time but now I look at him like any other greedy self protecting coward who can't bring themself to do the right thing. I have more respect for Sandusky as he suffers from a verifiable mental disorder – Paterno just suffers from self preservation and the me me mentality. In a sense, had Sandusky not been around Paterno would go out as the best coach ever but that's not how life played out and we are all presented with decisions that define us – Paterno, polticians, cheating husbands, etc. all get the same opportunity and all will suffer the same outcomes. Rant over!

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

      Perhaps it's not Paterno it's fanatical fans. Sports has taken over our universities. They're no longer places of learning instead they are places driven by the "game" whether that's basketball, baseball or football or whatever game we choose. Only in the U. S. are we so foolish that our academic programs take a backseat to our sports programs. Paterno ultimately ran Penn State – now that he and the men who reported into him have feet of clay everyone wants to excoriate them. Poor kids, bad, bad adults. So does that mean sports programs at other schools are less corrupt? Oh sure they may not be dens of pedophilia – or they may. But are they any less corrupt? Once upon a time schools played these things to bring together a community – now it's a business. It's P/L on a balance sheet. And when bad things happen the whole shootin' match goes down the tubes. You college sports freaks get what you pay for – the lust of the coliseum has bubbled over into your lives and it feels pretty crummy. You made that bed, now lay in it.

      July 17, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Polkovnik

    Joe Paterno did many good, even fine, things during his long tenure, but two exceedingly bad ones: he turned a mere sport into a great university's controlling ethos, and he failed unforgivably respecting the Sandusky affair.
    Two quotes:
    • "Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." (Lord Acton, re Pope Pius IX)
    * "The evil that men do lives after them, The good is oft interred with their bones." (Shalespeare, Julius Caesar)
    So let it be with JoePa. Time for the Nittany Lions must create a new history, starting now. Take down the statue and give it to the Paterno family, to do with as they will.

    July 17, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Leviathan

    What is it about Football that causes all these people to suddenly become cultists?
    He was a football coach. Why does so much stuff for him even exist anyway?

    It's a game, for God's sake people. What's the point of caring so much? Murals in schools? Statues to him? Exactly what had he accomplished before all this?

    If you want to tell me about his mentoring students, that's all well and good, but we all know that's not what he's famous for. There are hundreds of teachers all over the nation who mentor their students just as well as he did and they don't get murals or statues.

    He made them feel like they were the stronger tribe, and so he gets deified. That's my two cents.

    July 17, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
  10. mgee

    say it ain't so joe, say it ain't so

    July 17, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Gabe Mayhew

    what's taking so long to smash it? -just another slap in the face of the abused – this should be no-brainer – TAKE IT DOWN!

    July 17, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
  12. rockysfan

    This is pathetic," wrote Janessa Bednash. "Read the report. There is no evidence to determine Joe had a hand in covering this up.
    Really, I suggest you read it again. He certainly did cover it up. By not doing anything, he is complicit in what Sandusky did. GROW UP! This man was as much a horror a Sandusky because he CHOSE to look the other way and didn't give a fig about those innocent little boys that are now scarred for life!

    July 17, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Harry

    I like what one former student wrote here suggesting moving that statue and putting up one for one of the great scholars they have there, that would be great. Penn State does have fellows that have been ground breaking on many things. Highlight one of them would be wonderful for the student body and staff that had no knowledge or power to stop what happened there. Not everyone is guilty at Penn State. We must remeber that. A university is about education not sports.

    July 17, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
  14. mortamus

    How can anyone from proud at this point? All things pass? Some thing should not be forgotten..

    July 17, 2012 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Paul

    I wonder how much of our hostility on this issue is arising from our own insecurities and shortcomings.

    July 17, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
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