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. sea

    Calm down people..........this isn't the mid-east. It's just a statue.....really.....

    July 17, 2012 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • asdf

      lol @ the image of a mob tearing it down, cheering, and firing guns into the air.

      July 17, 2012 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Darth Cheney

    I wonder how much people outside PA know about Corbett's role in all this? I wonder how much people inside PA know the extent of it?

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

    If they leave it up it will be defaced so badly that it will need to come out anyway

    July 17, 2012 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Dan

    Why would you have a statue of a football coach anyway? What messed up priorities they must have at this university.

    July 17, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  5. falconmitty

    I do not know who was behind the pilots seat today but I must give kudos to that person/person's for standing up for what they believe and taking to the air to display their dis-satisfaction with PS officials. Joe Pa' has made an everlasting statement before his un-timely death. That at all costs the university would be protected. Corporate America for you. Hopefully the United States Department of Justice is investigating this case as well, and I hope we hear from them very soon. There is so much corupption within the powers that be, I hope somebody comes in PSU and cleans house. This may include a government takeover, and yes I would welcome that to over-see that all students are taken out of harms way in the future. Now before you go out and condemn me for favoring a government take over we need to remember that this university received a lot of grant money from our Federal Government in the past. Now the question remains what did it go for? What they said on paper was one thing, what actually happened is another.......

    July 17, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  6. fan

    The stadium should be torn down too and the football program disbanded. Football was the means to this end.

    July 17, 2012 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Dawg

    It is much easier to fool people.., than it is to convince people that they have been fooled

    July 17, 2012 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
  8. We are Penn State!

    I think we should wait for the Paterno Family report before we do anything harsh. LMFAO!

    July 17, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Betsy Supancik

    There is no PROOF that Joe did anything wrong. And there is no PROOF that there were any NCAA violations. And if you cancel the football season there will no funds for most of the other sports at PSU.

    July 17, 2012 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dorkus

      Wouldn't that be a shame. I'm sure Jerry's victims would cry their little eyes out.

      July 17, 2012 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • We are Penn State!

      Worried about your seasons tickets, Betsy?

      July 17, 2012 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ray

      So obvious you are drinking the "Penn State" really think Happy Valley is anything significant in this's have to look beyond your insignificant univesity AND JoeJerk & see that he ATLEAST covered for Sandusky for 15+ years & put your own children in it and ask – what should be done to JoeJerk who covered for this monster.......wake up girl

      July 17, 2012 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • atljack

      If you are a Penn Stater, that school does not teach critical thinking. There is this thing called deductive reasoning. You might find it useful.

      If you go to bed one night and its not snowing, but when you get up in the morning you can see snow for miles., you can be assured it snowed that night.

      Let's try it this way. If McQuery had said to Paterno, Coach I saw Coach Sandusky raping your grandson. Do you think Paterno would have said: "you did what you had to do, now I have to decide what we WANT to do." (his actual words)
      and that NOTHING would be reported to social services or the police.

      Or do you think Paterno would have sat idly by and watched Sandusky for another DECADE?

      Or do you think Paterno would have called the State Attorney General, the Penn State Police or the Governor, since he knew all those people?

      Ms. Supancik, try to use this deductive reasoning thing. You will find it helpful in life.

      July 17, 2012 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Broadcasting

      There is electronic paper trail a hundred miles long. Human decency and compassion is far more important than football.

      July 17, 2012 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • mrlucky11

      That's BRILLIANT Betsy! Were you one of those that defended Hitler after WWII? After all – nobody actually saw him at the showers.

      If you could only see through the eyes of EVERY PERSON ON THE PLANET what a disgusting and abhorable thing you are defending. If JoPa was such a great king to y'all – then certainly he must have known more about the little boy but**ucking that was going on at PSU.

      Surely, there must have been at least one private moment when Patermo and Sandusky were alone and JoPa had the opportunity to ask "What the heck where you doing?" That is what the Freeh report is pointing out. You are the most powerful man on campus, yet you let this slide?

      Tear down the statue and whenever the Paterno name is mentioned – run for the hills!

      July 17, 2012 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
  10. BillW

    I don't mind the calls for the removal of Paterno from anything Penn State. As I am not an alum, I won't state an opinion on it one way or the other. However, calls to cancel the football season will in effect punish innocent student-athletes. The current players on the Penn State football team have no connection to the horrible events that have transpired in the past. To sacrifice their season will not help the victims or improve the image of Penn State, but rather hurt 18-22 year-old's that have no culpability. A better idea would be to let the players play and any money earned this season from football goes into a fund for the victims. The players win, the victims win, and the school (the guilty party in all this) loses.

    Remove Paterno from Penn State if you want, but don't take away football from the students.

    July 17, 2012 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alverant

      Then how do we punish State Penn for their crimes? It seems like the most fitting punishment. That way the student athletes can be actual STUDENTS for a year. Oh and for the football fans, open up the stadium to the local high school during the week and for impromto games of touch football for the college students on the weekends.

      July 17, 2012 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • We are Penn State!

      Bill, this is a college, not a sports complex. Let the students who are there for the sports transfer somewhere else.

      July 17, 2012 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • BillW

      By that logic, anytime someone does something horrible at an organization, we should punish not only that person, but also everyone associated with that organization? Should we fire the regular line employees who work for BP so that we can punish the company? Should we ban the entire Rotary Club if one of its members commits a crime? Where does it end? You cannot punish those who are not guilty in the name of punishing the organization they belong to. If ending the football season was the only way to punish Penn State, maybe, but there are other ways to make the school feel the consequences without hurting innocent student athletes.

      Oh, by the way, those athletes who can afford Penn State, the most expensive state school in the country, only by virtue of their athletic scholarship who would lose said scholarship if the football season were canceled, do we kick them out of school? Defer their education by a year? What is your solution to this unintended consequence?

      July 17, 2012 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Trace

      II agree!!

      July 17, 2012 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Unbelieveable

      I agree. Why are all you people blaming the kids who are attending the college? They had nothing to do with this. I can't understand the comments here about shutting down the football program. If a hospital administrator turned his back on abuse would you lobby to close the hospital?? I realize that Paterno was affilated with football but again the football program itself wasn't responsible.

      July 17, 2012 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Gary B

    I think instead of tearing the statue down they should move it to a local dog park and give the area dogs a good place to relieve themselves.

    July 17, 2012 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
  12. JL

    Am I the only one who thinks that they should keep the statue not as a shrine, but as a reminder of what happens when you only care about images and PR? Removing it, to me, only allows them to speed up forgetting this ever happened. Punish them, and make them walk by this reminder every time there's a game.

    July 17, 2012 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
  13. John Prescott

    To me the most damning evidence that Joe Paterno was very aware of what happened, is his behavior following his Grand Jury testimony. He immediately goes the Board of Trustees to NEGOTIATE an retirement or "exit" if you will. He had to have known what was was about to go down and yet in another selfish move on his part he negotiates an exit worth millions of dollars. Forget the statue, let the vandals have there way with it, this " blood Money" should be returned, not to demand it's return is criminal. The powers at the University have been wanting him to retire of a decade and all of the sudden he walks in and "negotiates" a retirement. Shameful.
    This is a crime that I liken to a statute that most states have during the committment of a violent crime. You may not have pulled the trigger, but you were there participating in the crime and hence you are part of the crime.

    July 17, 2012 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |

    Will the person that has the evidence that Coach Paterno did anything illegal please post it. Because I can't find it.

    July 17, 2012 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dorkus

      It's right in front of you, just take off the blinders and open your eyes.

      July 17, 2012 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • JL

      I'm hoping you're some kind of troll, because if anyone seriously believes this, then humanity as we know it is over. DNA has mutated too much to continue to allow our species to survive.

      July 17, 2012 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • We are Penn State!

      You must be a Penn State graduate. Lol.

      July 17, 2012 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Unbelieveable

      I agree and no I am not a Penn State graduate. I read the report where is the evidence? EVIDENCE???

      July 17, 2012 at 6:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • CC

      Read the FBI report dude, a link is on this site.

      July 17, 2012 at 9:48 pm | Report abuse |
  15. mslane

    tear it down it is the right thing to do

    July 17, 2012 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
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