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. George

    At the very least for the next few years if Penn State wants to continue it's atheletic programs, they should pay each highschool recruits tuition for the 4 year ride. THAT'S THE LEAST THEY COULD DO. Can't act like they dont have the money...none of these colleges can. They owe a whole lot more, but that's a start..

    July 17, 2012 at 7:50 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Whome

    Ah so many sanctimonious people out there what a shame, I'm betting this out cry is coming from those who have never done anything wrong in their lives.

    July 17, 2012 at 7:55 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Strategery

    Create a trust for the victims with 100% of all revenue from football games, each year decreasing by 10%. Once at 10% the trust will be funding the PSU anti-abuse center or some such. The entirety of State College doesn't have to suffer the huge loss of revenue. Scholar athletes and everyone associated from the board of trustees to the janitors get to help the victims who testified. By the way omission is commission or actus reus, so you need to eliminate the Paterno name from everything, to acheive tabula rasa.

    July 17, 2012 at 7:56 pm | Report abuse |
  4. waner21

    If the statue stays, change the name of Penn State to Pedo State. Hope I was the first to coin it. ~crossing fingers~

    July 17, 2012 at 8:31 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Vic

    Jeremy, this is actually not akin to "not putting a murderer in prison because his family will suffer". We're not talking about only a handful of people suffering because of the publics want to punish, we're talking potentially thousands of people. And no I'm not just talking about students or people related to te university. You can't make a reasonable argument claiming to walk the morale high ground while condoning the chance of harming people and business that have absolutely nothing to do with PSU or this tragedy.

    July 17, 2012 at 8:35 pm | Report abuse |
  6. dcc

    A plane flying over the stadium are you kidding me...this is now bordering on insanity and dangerous...the mob mentality has got to stop...all of you who don't belong to the Penn State community as a student or an alumni go back to your lives...

    July 17, 2012 at 8:38 pm | Report abuse |
  7. PedophileStateU

    Never ever hire a PSU grad

    July 17, 2012 at 8:51 pm | Report abuse |
  8. CC

    I don't get why people are defending him. Read the report, he knew what was going on and didn't do anything about it. Who ever supports Joe is a ok with child molestation. what he did doest matter what he did or should I say what he didn't do. Lucky I'm not in charge I would ban Pen state from having a football program for 5 to 10 years. Hit them were it hurts. Allow the athletes to transfer without waiting a year to play again.

    July 17, 2012 at 9:03 pm | Report abuse |
  9. CC

    I meat to say it does matter what he did or should I say didn't do.

    July 17, 2012 at 9:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jamie Foxx

      People are holding Joe Paterno to a higher standard than the Pope.
      I believe both "Paterno" and "Pope" mean "father."

      I guess we know what the state religion is at Penn State.

      July 18, 2012 at 12:44 am | Report abuse |
  10. MeSO

    wow you take down that statute and you might get tracked down by the student body....have you ever seen the riots in state college.

    July 17, 2012 at 9:11 pm | Report abuse |
  11. CC

    They throw the book at Pete Rose for gambling. a harsher punishment should be given to Joe pa. Eliminate everything having to do with him. take away his records and statues, EVERYTHING must be erased. I'm sure a younger coach could step in and start a new legacy.

    July 17, 2012 at 9:12 pm | Report abuse |
  12. gwats

    Take the statue down, and apologize profusely to the victims over and over again.

    July 17, 2012 at 9:52 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Don Brown

    I heard the are going to leave the statue on campus, but turn it around so it can look the other way....

    July 17, 2012 at 9:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • MymanDarwin

      I admit it....I laughed.

      July 18, 2012 at 9:09 am | Report abuse |
  14. jake

    Yeah, typical American reaction to any situation. Paterno is dead; can't defend himself, so let's do everything possible to discredit and tarnish the man.
    Get real...Sandusky was/is the criminal. He's found guilty and will be sentenced. That's it. No! tear down the Paterno statue, suspend/terminate thye football program, go overboard. For what purpose?
    Sure, maybe the administration of Penn State could have done more, but the truth is they did what was required. That's more than so many other organizations have done in the past. And while we're on the subject, what about the victims. You mean to tell me that none would or could come foreward when these crimes were taking place. Unbelievable!

    Sandusky the culprit has been found guilty and will be punished. Enough, let the statue and football program stand.

    July 17, 2012 at 9:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mr Dalloway

      That's right buddy never do any more than what you are required to. Go find yourself.

      July 18, 2012 at 1:03 am | Report abuse |
    • Robert Shaperio

      Jake get your head out of the sand. Did you read the Freeh report. Your beloved Joe Pa hid information from his superiors about Sandusky. Also the administration did NOT do what was required by law. Please get your facts straight before posting. They are all about to spend time in prison for not reporting child abuse to the authorities. moron

      July 18, 2012 at 7:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Southbelle8

      Not all that was required.... Administration was required by law to notify outside authorities when under-aged children are involved. They did NOT do everything required... just the minimum to safe face and allow the pedophile to continue his legacy of destroying young boys lives... not all that was required, by a LONG shot!!!

      July 18, 2012 at 9:00 am | Report abuse |
    • Gnarls

      Penn State DID NOT do what was required. That's why people are facing jail time; they were grossly negligent. Paterno placed the well being of a football program over the welfare of children, for YEARS.
      Get rid of ALL signs of Paterno. He didn't do the right thing, and as a result, so many lives were ruined. This is bigger than football.
      PSU: Pedophile Safe-Haven University

      July 18, 2012 at 9:13 am | Report abuse |
    • DrJStrangepork

      You don't get it. Paterno was part of the apparatus that allowed this to happen. I agree that the reaction level is overboard, but given the fanaticism around Paterno that pendulum swing almost has to be. You can't erase his existence, but you do have to go forward. Paterno is dead, and reverence of him must be tempered with understanding that he was fallible. He did fail. He failed where it mattered most. If you consider Penn State Football more important than preventing a pedophile from hurting young boys then your priorities are severely out of whack, because that is where Paterno failed.

      July 18, 2012 at 9:24 am | Report abuse |
    • sckc

      I think you had better read the reports, both Grand Jury and Freeh. You don't really know what you are talking about.

      July 18, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Sydney

    The problem is the statue will be a never-ending target for vandelism.

    July 18, 2012 at 12:26 am | Report abuse |
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