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. chris

    Removing the statue solves nothing. IMO there is nothing wrong with having a statue of a man who was the football coach for over 40 years, with more wins than any other coach in history, 25 feet from the entrance to a football stadium that has known no other coach. When you find a statue of him in front of a children's hospital, then, by all means, remove it immediately.

    July 18, 2012 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
  2. t75tdc1

    Removing the statue is only a start. Due to the number of high ranking PSU staffers that were in the know and benefited from all of the football profits, I urge the NCAA to penalize PSU by not allowing them to participate in football at all for 5 years!

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

      End it and End and Era of Denial, Abuse, and Victimization.

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

      I agree with you 100%...they need to be sanctioned and although you feel for those in the program now and the students affected, they will be able to go on and possibly play for other great colleges and continue their football careers. I don't think Penn State is going to do anything, they haven't...this needs to come from the NCAA. Death Penalty as they said yesterday....

      July 18, 2012 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • marco

      I hope the NCAA doesn't cave to pressure and sanction them. I think it opens up too many questions about the future. Everytime you have a coach do something wrong people will immediately call for sanctions. There are laws in this land and if the Penn St. officials have broken those laws they should be tried and convicted. If we don't feel the laws a harsh enough we should change them but allowing bodies like the NCAA and NFL to start dictating moral and ethical behaviour is going to lead to a place where we'll turn around in 20 years and wonder how the hell we let it happen.

      July 18, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
  3. imzzzz

    Amen!

    July 18, 2012 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
  4. bill

    I say tear down the statue and put in sandusky's prison cell and let sandusky do to it what joepa allowed sandusky to do to children on the penn state campus football facilities

    July 18, 2012 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
  5. JohnRJohnson

    Leave it standing so that it can be continually desecrated.

    July 18, 2012 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jampy

    Penn State is a DISGRACE, they haven't even had the decency to acknowledge this was wrong, they have sympathy for these horrific actions and understand the gravity of what took place. They need if they want to be considered a repudable college, to cancel their football program for now and start clean. For years they went on to cover this up, student's tuitions, donations, etc...were paying for THIS SICK ACT and the people around it, that's right all their salaries...Paterno was the scapegoat in all of this, no he did not do everything he could; but the fact that administration knew and did nothing.... IS THE BIGGEST PROBLEM HERE!!!! Something needs to give...

    July 18, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Actually ...

      @Jampy: Please don't lump the entire school, including literally tens of thousands of innocent students and staff, all of which feel terrible for the abused kids (because lets be honest, do you *really*, deep down, think that the average student or professor or support staffer genuinely supports child abuse?) in with the idiots who perpetrated the coverup? It's so easy to let the new dehumanize them but remember these were the actions of a select group of the administration, not the entire school.

      July 18, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Joe (Not Pa)

    Leaving aside the question of whether Penn State ought to be seriously considering its addiction to professional football (face it, that is what Penn State, Alabama, LSU & numerous other "name" programs engage in), I'm not sure exactly what taking down the statue will accomplish other than costing the university a few thousand bucks that it could spend on scholarships for "real" students. Paterno may have turned a blind eye, or he may not have been quite sure what to do, especially when the higher-ups didn't seem to care about anything but making that big money. I agree with the poster upthread who suggested that by the same token we take down the monuments to the slaveholders Washington and Jefferson...

    July 18, 2012 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Eric

    I think the national media and talking heads (who disguise themselves as journalists) are failing to realize 3 things. Number 1 is that the Freeh Report completely ignores the presence of Mike McQueary. By doing so there is an obvious assumption in his findings and broad assumptions that all four of the top level employees knew every single detail of the now infamous shower incident. Obviously more could and should have been done, however, suggesting their actions deliberately enabled a child molester is a big leap. The second thing is that in 1998 and 2001, the perception of Jerry Sandusky in Centre County, amongst Penn State alumnae, and nationally, was far different. This was a man who was a highly successful football coach professionally, and a man who, seemingly, set up a very successful and helpful charity that helped hundreds of troubled teens. When you look back at the 98 investigation, there were no charges filed. The DA and the DPW both dropped their investigation. When you look at that investigation through the lens of 1998, it's not hard to be believe that even knowledge of this investigation would not raise a red flag. He was distinguished member of the community at the time and if his defense internally was that the allegations were made up by one of the "troubled" youths, you'd be compelled to believe him. Finally, the last thing you need to at least consider is that people are forming their opinions based on what they knew this man was capable because, at this point, just about everyone in the country knows all of the lowlights in the grand jury investigation. I would venture a guess that more than 95% of the information in there was a shock to Paterno and others.

    Mistakes were made and prices have been paid, but this is not simply a failure of four people. Did these 4 people have in hand in not doing more to prevent this catastrophe? Absolutely. However, singling them out when there were failures on many levels, that allowed this behavior to continue. In my mind, knocking down a statue or eliminating a football season/program, seem to do little to rectify the situation. I feel that learning from this case to help a community identify the signs of a serial pedophile to prevent something like this from ever happening again, who be far more beneficial.

    July 18, 2012 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • sckc

      What about the University Police delaying their report and ultimately filing the 1998 police report as "administrative"? What about the failure of the university president or other upper management to notify the Board of Trustees? Clery Act reporting? What about the failure of the inhouse counsel and outside counsel (Cynthia Baldwin and Wendell Courtney) to recommend reporting the incident to police and child welfare agencies as required by law? All rotten to the core.

      July 18, 2012 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • JenniferK8

      Bravo, Eric!! My sentiments exactly.

      July 19, 2012 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Ted

    Since it's come out that the board of trustees were asked to change proposed reforms by Joe back in 2004, then they should be removed immediately and given to Sandusky.

    July 18, 2012 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
  10. SPW

    Paterno left a long legacy at Penn St, taking down his statue would be no better than burning books you disagree with.

    40 years don't suddenly vanish, even after something as big as what went down.

    July 18, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
  11. shadowdiver

    In an ESPN poll, more than 60% of respondents said the statue should be removed immediately or sometime before the 2012 football season commences.'

    Football season..........there should be no football season for PSU for at least 5 years.

    July 18, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gary Hudson

      What exactly will suspending the program for 5 years accomplish? Preventing the exchange of money in a failing economy? (Sorry, but I had to play the economy card. On football weekends, State College becomes the 3rd most populous city in Pennsylvania.) A suspension of this sort would only hurt the student athletes who had nothing to do with this situation. Playing football at any Division 1 school is an incredibly difficult feat, and suspending academic and athletic careers awaiting transfer would uproot students who had no part in the scandal. Also, what happens on year 6? "Everything is fine now people, the students and athletes in the last five years have gone without football and have thus paid their debt to society." This solution is not doing anything to rectify the scandal, nor does it help the victims.

      July 18, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
  12. colfootballfan

    Why not put it in the shower room faacing backward....or better yet put it in Sandusky's backyard looking the other way. That statue needs to come down – this is a lesson to all schools (my fav included) that it could happen at any school – money, greed, and power helped keep this monster untouched. Paterno is NOT GOD – no football coach is – we need to stop treating them this way!!!!!

    July 18, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
  13. JoeMustGo

    Since he is holding up the wrong finger, then yes, it should come down.

    July 18, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Yoda

    No it should stay...Sandusky was not accussed of any crimes in 98 or 2001. That is what Joe new...He thought to give him a chance to get help if he had some kind of disease and take his retirement...Joe did not know of Jerry's extent of abuse.....Get the facts right...quit using Joe as an escape goat for missed signals by everyone else...!!!

    July 18, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • JoeMustGo

      What is an "escape goat"?

      July 18, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
  15. noteaparty4me

    s

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