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. Andy

    If they take down the Paterno Statue, then they need to take down, not rename, the Paterno Library too. The University didn't have any problem accepting the large donations from Paterno when the senior leadership was also knowledgable about the Sandusky Monster. I would also be interested to know how the victims feel about the statue.

    July 18, 2012 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Lewis Judy

    when you witness something like this it is best to take a shower, wash your hands and try to start over. GET RID OF THE STATUE AND EVERYTHING RELATED TO THAT FOOTBALL PROGRAM.

    July 18, 2012 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brandon

      The statue should come down immediately, and Penn State should receive the death penalty in football effective immediately for minimum 3-5 years.

      July 18, 2012 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • cobra

      You are wrong because I suspect that a lot of the crap being bandied back and forth about this is 90% BS, some people just can not tell the truth. Leave the statue up there!

      July 18, 2012 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • LarryB

      Then since the same thing occurred within the Catholic church – actually worse in that it involved multiple pedophile priests who were allowed to continue on their merry way by various church leaders (including the current pope, who refused to take action, citing "canon law") – according to your logic, should the pope be defrocked, and should the entire Catholic church be abolished?

      July 18, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Another

      Don't stop at the football team. Close the school! Throw all the students out! Close all the coffee shops. Surely the coaches must have had a coffee or two after a game. Don't stop there, board up the town. They support the school - supporting the school supported the football team - supporting the football team means they all essentially abused the children. Track down the students who attended during this period of time – invalidate their degrees. Don't stop until it is a wasteland!

      July 18, 2012 at 11:13 pm | Report abuse |
  3. EricTheEngr

    The Paterno statue should absolutely stay put. When it was erected, it honored the man. Now that he has been dishonored, it is something else – the albatross hung around Penn State's neck. I have no doubt Penn State's board will decide to remove it. Why voluntarily wear a mark of shame? They'll quickly abolish all the references to Paterno that they can under the guise of "not honoring him" or "moving forward", when all they really want is to save face and have people just forget about him. But the lessons learned here, about the consequences of perverting justice to serve the powerful instead of the vulnerable, were paid for too dearly to allow a hasty whitewashing. That statue is a big bronze monument to shameful behavior. Make Penn State bear the weight of it.

    July 18, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chip

      Exactly right. Removing the statue would be just as bad as tearing down the Jefferson Memorial because the man was a slaveowner. It's OK to honor the good things people do, even if they did bad things too.

      July 18, 2012 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • C'mon get with it!

      Following that logic, we should have left statues of Saddam Hussein standing. Paterno was a slime ball. Yes, he was a good football coach, but what he did to protect his players and the university is inexcusable. He allowed a child molester to continue to work and be protected. He also prevented some of the football players, who thought acting like over-sized thugs with 2 1/2 hat sizes to beat and intimidate other students and get away with it. Nope. Sorry. The statue should be pulled down and sold for scrap. There is absolutely NO reasonable excuse for what Paterno did. None.

      July 18, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • MesaMom

      Hadn't thought of it that way. You're right. Those who forget will repeat and that statue will represent that an overpowering sports influence can be very damaging.

      July 18, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Tyler

    I think Joe Paterno's brass statue should be chopped up into 365 pieces that will be recast into various shaped DIL doughs that Sandusky must wear keistered up his back slide. One for each day of the year, 24/7, to be removed only when going #2 or getting passed around the cell block like a raggedy dan doll.

    July 18, 2012 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
  5. mikebo

    Knowing about it is about as bad of doing it..

    July 18, 2012 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Alex

    Take down the statue. And end the football program. If Penn State wants to reclaim its reputation as a university it should concentrate on academics. Become a first rate university not a first rate football team.

    July 18, 2012 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Sheila

    Stevie - Your point, "Should Catholic churches be taken down because some priests molested children?" isn't valid. We aren't asking to tear down PSU.

    We are saying take down the statue of the person who had a very bad philosophy of dealing with all football issues internally because he wanted to protect the football program / $$$. PSU is bigger than Patero and PSU is bigger than its football program.

    July 18, 2012 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
  8. James Hernandez

    Joe Pa's statute can't stand as symbol of his work at Penn State, his reputation has bee
    irreparably tarnished. But the strange thing is that if people (reporters) looked at
    Bobby Bowden's record while at FSU Ithink his statute would go as well.
    You can't punch a student, no matter where, and get away with it.

    July 18, 2012 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
  9. What are they thinking?

    Level the playing field and turn it into a park. Leave the statue as a reminder to the people of Penn State about their complete and utter failure at governance.

    July 18, 2012 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
  10. SD

    You guys are just going to keep milking this. Do your job and find a real story. Pathetic.

    July 18, 2012 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Poolchick

      And yet you are here posting. Go find another story if you are tired of this one.

      July 18, 2012 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
  11. DanW

    Let the PSU people themselves decide on how to symbolically represent their school to themselves and the world.

    July 18, 2012 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Mario

    It needs to be removed, its an insult to all of the victims that a statue of a man that could have stopped and prevented what happened to them is still standing.

    July 18, 2012 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Adam

      Let them keep it. Let the PSU community wallow in the disgrace of an arrogant man that was made a "god" in the community. And let's see how admissions are affected. I wouldnt want to go to school there after this, nor play there.

      July 18, 2012 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  13. john houston

    get a rope and tear it down just like the us troops did to sadaams statue in bagdad

    July 18, 2012 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Mike

    Take it down. No-brainer.

    July 18, 2012 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
  15. J2

    Really, He was a great football coach. The CRIMINAL, has prosecuted and sent to jail for the REST of his life!!!!
    The statues for his accomplishments in FOOTBALL. If you think about it if you leave it up, people will
    forever remember the tarnished image as well.
    If you wish more blood, Go prosecute the other people that KNEW and are still ALIVE!!!!!!!

    July 18, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chip

      yeah these people calling for the statue to be removed think they're part of the solution. they're not, they're part of the problem. much of the bad publicity around paterno right now originates with the living, guilty parties deflecting attention from themselves (spanier, curley, schultz, and the board of trustees). I'm not saying that Paterno did nothing wrong, I'm saying he makes a convenient scapegoat for the remaining guilt parties since he can no longer defend himself.

      July 18, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
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