July 18th, 2012
12:40 PM ET

Penn State: Paterno statue decision due in days

A decision will be made on the future status of the embattled statue of former head football coach Joe Paterno "within seven to 10 days," Penn State spokesman David La Torre told CNN on Wednesday.

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 Paterno 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 StateCollege.com.

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 InsideHigherEd.com. “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 (616 Responses)
  1. ronjayaz

    In fact I think they shud blow it up, safely, of course.

    July 18, 2012 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Midwest wonderer

    The NCAA should be putting a hold an any sports at Penn State, at least for a few years.
    And yes, take the statue down. It is shameful that it is still there!!!!

    July 18, 2012 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • jkINC

      That is a tough call, suspending the programs only hurts the current student athletes not to mention the collateral damage to the local economy and the effect on people that had nothing to do with these heinous crimes. NCAA can't fix the past they can only punish the present and that only hurts those not involved. Perhaps what the NCAA should do is require that all profits from the football program for the next X years be directed to funds help abused kids and families.

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

      It's depressing to see the actions of a few stupid men ruin an entire university and in the process, destroy any respect for previous alumni and future students.

      I would have to argue that for any group of people to start a healing process, the first steps would be to remove any symbols or reminders of the events and therefore the statue should be removed.

      Moving forward, hopefully the Paterno family will continue with their charitable donations to the future students of Penn State.

      Also, I think Penn State should earmark the funds for their football program and be required to pour that money into the other sports on campus to support those student athletes.

      July 18, 2012 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • kathy

      So Punish an entire community. Are you out of your mind. go ahead take down the statue. But, sports should absolutely continue at PSU. The Facts are very disturbing and this should never have happened. but, its like saying Hitlers grand children should be put in jail because they are related. There are wonderful nice people who live and work in this community who rely on the students and the fans to come up and spend money and create a livelihood for them. This is not as simple as punish 4 men. You will wipe out a very large section on PA. Use your head folks.

      July 18, 2012 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
  3. thinkergal

    Take it down! Present it to his family if they want it. They are in such denial, they would probably give it a place of honor.

    July 18, 2012 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
  4. JHD

    I'm unsure. On the one hand you cannot always be responsible for someone else's actions but on the other he acted like he was the president of the university during that time. His superiors definitely should have taken charge but if Paterno said no don't do anything then it should be take down.

    July 18, 2012 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
  5. David

    There is still a debate about the statue? Penn State still does not get it. This is easy, tear the statue down now, and remove anything from the time period when these horrible crimes against children took place.

    July 18, 2012 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • JenniferK8

      If Penn State officials decide to tear down the statue of Joe Paterno, they should also return the millions of dollars the Paterno family has donated through the years and shut down the library named for him – that's how you erase a legacy the right way. No one really knows how much Joe Paterno knew because he died in January and was not afforded an interview by Mr. Freeh, even though he requested one.

      July 18, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  6. jkINC

    It needs to come down. Now it's only a symbol of abuse, stupidity and disaster. Any positive aspects it represented are blacked out by the negative actions and the actions not taken to protect kids from Sandusky. Perhaps someday in the distant future it can be put back up. Perhaps.

    July 18, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
  7. AndyCandy

    Anyone with a Penn State degree must demand Penn State remove the statue and take back any money going to "JoPa" or his family. If you do not then you are just as bad as good ol' JoPa the enabler.

    July 18, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • mdpt

      If the university wants to disassociate themselves from the Paterno family, then perhaps the u should also return the $millions in donations they received over the years from the family.

      July 18, 2012 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • haknslice

      AndyCandy

      And should PSU give back JoePa the 10's of millions he donated over the years?

      July 18, 2012 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Bob

    Leave it up, but put a statue of a little boy crying looking up at Paterno....

    July 18, 2012 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • JusThinkn

      honestly... great idea

      July 18, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • VinceProfessor

      How about a statue of a boy bending over? 🙂

      July 18, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Byteme

      Good idea, but put a statue of a crying boy for every victim involved!

      July 18, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Wesley Wallace

    Imagine how many statues we'd need to take down all across the country if we scrutinized the flaws of every individual for months on end in all forms of media. Stupid. Let the statue stand for Paterno's successes, let it stand as a constant reminder of how greatness does not stop us from being human, and making mistakes, however costly.

    July 18, 2012 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      wow what a Liberal ass you are.

      July 18, 2012 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • sbp

      A man with a stellar career of accomplishment who is caught in an affair or cheating on his income taxes – maybe you have an argument that one transgression doesn't outweigh the rest. Allowing a child molester to roam free for 14 years after you first found out – sorry, that weighs heavily.

      July 18, 2012 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Common Good

      you are delusional and in serious need of comprehensive psycho therapy. Your hero worship and primitive tribal association/identification needs and the aftermath of them, a near total vacuum in your cerebral cortex, have impaired your ability to think clearly. It's amazing you can still read and write at all.

      July 20, 2012 at 11:05 pm | Report abuse |
  10. AndyCandy

    If the NCAA does not eleminate Penn State from NCAA football for at least 5 years (no games period) then the NCAA supports child abuse. Make it harsh and be an example to others that if you allow child abuse it will be financially very bad for you.

    July 18, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Tortfeasor

    They need to turn the statue 180 degrees, so it can always look the other way

    July 18, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
  12. MIT

    They should cut off the head like in the Simpsons

    July 18, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Samuel R. Preston, III

    Leave it up – but put statues of weeping children around it. Might as well be accurate.

    July 18, 2012 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Ben23

    I wish Paterno was alive so that I can beat the crap out of him

    July 18, 2012 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • dag

      Beating the crap out of someone solves a problem? What a dumb A$$ remark.

      July 18, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • justuandi

      I am with Ben23. I mean if it was my Son or Daughter as the victims –geez I cannot imagine the emotional scars they will have to live with for the rest of their lives. I for one will gladly take the chair or life in prison to avenge my kids trauma. It may not eliminate their scars it but it certainly will bring me some comfort for sure.

      July 18, 2012 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Tigers

    Leave the statue in place to honor what...a man who deemed his status as a football legend to be ever so important as to allow child molestation to take place in return for football victories? Why is there any question at all regarding removing the statue immediately and melting down. Nothing should be left of that statue. It should not be placed in storage nor given to his family. It should be melted down and destroyed for eternity.

    July 18, 2012 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
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