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. Sydney

    Vandalism, sorry, typo.

    July 18, 2012 at 12:26 am | Report abuse |
  2. mr pibb

    The statue is a symbol of how creepy and twisted the people of " Happy " Valley really are. It should have been re moved a long time ago.

    July 18, 2012 at 3:05 am | Report abuse |
    • Southbelle8

      ... Like in January...

      July 18, 2012 at 9:01 am | Report abuse |
  3. mr pibb

    As long as the horrid statue stands, it will remind the rest of the country how creepy and twisted the people in Happy Valley really are.

    July 18, 2012 at 3:09 am | Report abuse |
  4. Chris

    OMG the amount of people who obviously have no idea what happened but still want to take sides with the coachis disgusting. The report is the onlyevidence we have andit is pretty damning. The report is thorough and based on fact. So therefore I say DOWN WITH THE STATUE AND OFF WITH HIS NAME! Zero tolerance for child rapisats and their protectors/enablers. shame on Joe.

    July 18, 2012 at 4:55 am | Report abuse |
    • TS

      Leave it up, Chris, so that no one will forget what happened. They need to be reminded of it every time they set foot in that stadium. It should be burned in the memory of every past, current, and future student and administrator.

      July 18, 2012 at 8:53 am | Report abuse |
  5. TS

    Leave it up, so that people think about what it means to be blind followers every time they set foot in the stadium.

    Never forget.

    July 18, 2012 at 8:51 am | Report abuse |
  6. Piltdown911

    Here's a little known fact: Sandusky founded Second Mile an organization to help "troubled youth" – youth who had more trouble after being "helped". Sandusky and a US senator worked closely together on this project, in fact this senator thought so highly of Sandusky the he personally nominated him for the Congressional "Angel of Adoption" award. That senator is none other than Tricky Rick Santorum, who later denied having anything to do with Sandusky. If Santorum has a statue – it should be removed as well.

    July 18, 2012 at 9:09 am | Report abuse |
  7. SCG

    Don't take it down...turn it around, to symbolize how he turned his back on Penn State and all the children who were abused...

    July 18, 2012 at 9:17 am | Report abuse |
  8. Imjustsaying

    I notice not many people are focusing on the "or we will" portion of the plane banner. I'm guessing if the university doesn't remove it, the statue will quickly lose chunks of material from people trying to rip it down........the point is, the statue is coming down one way or another, the university might as well look like the better person by pulling it down first.

    July 18, 2012 at 10:28 am | Report abuse |
  9. Mike

    I can tell ya what the Republicans are thinking! God is VERY Angery! With all this gay marriage. And Blacks Marrying Whites. What's the world come to? WE must ALL Repent!! Go back to the days when a woman's place was in the kitchen. Oh what? II"M LIVING in the PAST!?! But I want to stick me head in the sand and not change or evolve with the times!! No damn it I want to be in CONTROL of everyone's lives! Oops, the truth just came out.

    July 18, 2012 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
    • Justme2323

      Right, the story was about your opinion on Republicans not Penn State University and a Paterno statue. Just wanted to make it clear to all teh rest of the readers.

      July 18, 2012 at 7:26 pm | Report abuse |
  10. StatusStillUp

    Seriously.... the statue is still up?

    July 18, 2012 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
    • deadspam

      What some enterprising students/alumni should do is hang a sign a sign around his neck that reads
      "Aided and Abetted Pederasty". Then leave it (the statue) there.

      July 18, 2012 at 8:02 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Anon

    Why tear the statue down when they can just cover it up?

    July 18, 2012 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
  12. SirSa

    He may have done 100 things right for that school and for the football team, but all that is forgotten by the one thing he didnt do.. help the boys that were being abused. Take down the statue it is a reminder of what he failed at doing.

    July 18, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Eric Jones

      Rightly so the statue should be taken down or covered up. A thousand rights don't make up for this kind of wrong.

      July 18, 2012 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
  13. whiskeyman

    READ THE REPORT. Just doing enough to get by and ignoring the welfare of children is unacceptable. Anyone that thinks it's acceptable and go to the gallows with Sandusky. Penn State fans, you're boy loving Sandusky is taking you all down and it's well deserved 40,000 or not. Sandusky and his henchmen including Paterno and EVERYONE that knew anything including the janitors that saw this happening can burn in hell as far as i'm concerned.

    July 18, 2012 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
  14. tomthumbtx

    If Paterno was alive and he had said "Im sorry for what I did"..we will have the right wing and sport fanatic nut cases embracing him. As a society we are more easy forgiving the rich and famous..we are mean ruthless to the honest and law abiding who are poor / middle class..No credits for them no appreciation for them for always taking the right/tough choices in life. The law abiding right acting middle class does not ask for appreciation, but should n't we rightfully punish the wrong doers by revoking the credits if its proven someone did a shameful act / covered up a shameful act to increase their riches..Am i asking too much?

    July 18, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  15. bleedsnyblue

    Shame on Paterno, and the whole PSU community. Anyone who knew what was going on should be in jail, bar none. They deliberately put the reputation of the school, the coach, and the team ahead of the safety and welfare of the innocent victims being violated by a rapacious pedophile. And it was not a very well-kept secret in State College! A local restaurant offered "The Sandusky" dessert for YEARS: an ice cream cone with two scoops, served inverted on a plate, cone up. The school could have stopped it when they first had an inkling, 14 years ago, but chose to pay Sandusky off to keep a low profile, and stay out of the headlines. Whatever the NCAA does, law enforcement should prosecute every last one of them with knowledge of these heinous crimes, and lock them up with the worst criminals behind bars- because they tried to save themselves from embarrassment, when they should have been protecting those kids!!

    July 18, 2012 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
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