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. Denise Navarre

    I have a real question. Why didn't Tom Corbett, who was the attorney general in 1998, report it publicly that Jerry Sandusky was under investigation. Why ddn't he get him then. Also, the laws should be changed to protect company personnel to go directly to the police. Look what happened to McCreary, he lost his job. They said his contract was up but I don't believe it. Also, what about our government. They will convict child abusers and them let them live within the surroundings of children as long as they register. They never reform

    July 18, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Eric

      I couldn't agree more, and I'd go further to say; 1.) Why did he slow play this investigation as AG? and 2.) Why and how could he accept campaign contributions from the second mile when he had knowledge of everything? In my mind, he is the biggest disgrace of anybody involved in this thing and he is getting away scot free and on top it, he has the gall to yell at someone when he was questioned about it.

      July 18, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Tom

    WHAT A SHAM!!!

    So now Joe is "GUILTY BY INUENDO" before the facts are in and a REASONABLE HEARIONG has been held! Is this the United States? I thought we operatied "legal terms" from a PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE UNTIL PORVEN GUILTY!

    WHAT A SHAM AND FARCE!!!

    July 18, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • pm

      Tom...there WAS a trial and Sandussky was convicted of raping many boys over many years. Then there WAS an independant investigation that shows that the leadership of the University put winning football games ahead of protecting children from a monster and they were afraid the negative attention would bring down the program. Joe Pa was complicit in his inaction to stop Sandusky and the abuse. If Joe Pa called the police this would have stopped long before it did. Children were abused because Joe Pa chose to not do anything and continue allowing this monster full acces to the facilities and even an office.

      July 18, 2012 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Kevin

    No, it should not stay.

    July 18, 2012 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Steve

    Leave it up...just have it turned so it's looking the other way. Bazinga!

    July 18, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Face

    They should have a statue of Sandusky giving a boy a shower.

    July 18, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • SirQl8

      In the sightline of Paterno's gaze...or behind his back.

      July 18, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Gary Hudson

    Should the statue of the winningest coach in NCAA history be taken down? Simply, no. The statue is of a coach, and a great (also deceased) one at that. Not to say that Paterno is innocent of wrongdoing, but as far as coaching goes, you can't contest over 400 wins. Punishing student athletes by suspending the program does nothing to help Sandusky's victims through their anguish, nor does it punish the now-fired administrators under whom the abuses occurred.

    July 18, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • tokencode

      What an absolute joke, JoePed does not deserve a statue. It doesn't matter how great of a coach you are when you are a crappy human being.

      July 18, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • pm

      there WAS a trial and Sandussky was convicted of raping many boys over many years. Then there WAS an independant investigation that shows that the leadership of the University put winning football games ahead of protecting children from a monster and they were afraid the negative attention would bring down the program. Joe Pa was complicit in his inaction to stop Sandusky and the abuse. If Joe Pa called the police this would have stopped long before it did. Children were abused because Joe Pa chose to not do anything and continue allowing this monster full acces to the facilities and even an office. WAKE UP JOE PA APOLOGISTS...he enabled a rapist to continue raping boys.

      July 18, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • SirQl8

      There you go again, PedPimp, turning a blind eye from heinous acts to '400 wins'... Read your post again, then think of the acts perpetrated on 9 and 10 year old boys. Do '400' wins mean anything now ? I didn't think so, you hillbillies are so inbred and corrupted, you think this is all natural. Say and think what you will, someway, somehow, that statue will not live to see 2013.

      July 18, 2012 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Sam

    I didn't know who Joe Paterno was until this scandal broke – yes, I do live in the US, but not a football fan. The statue should come down because otherwise it would be a constant reminder for everyone who sees it how he turned his back on small children in favor of football. Statue is for someone who has done good things for a society without blatant mistakes (because all humans do err).

    July 18, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Marvs257

    I think the victims should decide. One of the mother of the victim has said that the statue should come down. I think let them decide.

    July 18, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • cgt

      I think that's a good idea. Personally, I say take it down, but that decision is better made by those directly affected.

      July 18, 2012 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Raveonjd

    "This is pathetic," wrote Janessa Bednash. "Read the report. There is no evidence to determine Joe had a hand in covering this up" APPARENTLY THIS PERSON CANNOT READ. (PSU STUDENT?) JOE PATERNO'S NAME IS ALL OVER THIS PEDOFILE SCANDLE, JOE COVERED IT ALL UP. HE KNEW AND CONTINUED TO WORK SIDE BY SIDE SANDUSKY ALLOWING THE MOLESTATION TO GROW OVER YEARS. JOE IS JUST AS GUILTY AS SANDUSKY. TEAR DOWN THE STATUE – BEDNASH YOUR AN IDIOT

    July 18, 2012 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Marshall

      "Joe is just as guilty as Sandusky" No, Joe is the big name. He is not the child rapist. More has been written about Joe than the monster. Nothing is being done to stop what happened from happening again. Just digging Joe up and killing him repeatedly. That's revenge....not a solution. Pedophiles don't just exist in one place. Thats the story but it's ugly and we want to focus on other things. The media chooses Joe Pa because it sells. So sad

      July 18, 2012 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Art

      What a bonehead you are!!!!!! Her statement that there is no EVIDENCE is true if you read the report!!! Did you read it? If so, please quote specifically the evidence!!
      Also, Sandusky retired in 1999. They didn't continue to work "side-by-side". Obviously, challenged one, you don't care about facts.

      July 18, 2012 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
  10. TB

    As an alum of PSU, I belive that the statue should be removed. The stadium is named Beaver Stadium, not Paterno Stadium there is no reason for the statue to be there. I think it is an affront to Coach O'Brien or any coach to have a statue of the guy who preceeded you. Even if this never happened, the statue should be removed. It should be placed at the Paterno library that JoePa and Sue Pa built.

    July 18, 2012 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
  11. neilleeds

    Ask yourself this question; Knowing what we now know, would we build a statue of Paterno? If the answer is "no", which I suspect it would be, then the statue should be torn down.

    July 18, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Heather

    No way! Take it down!

    July 18, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
  13. nick

    It has to stay there. Otherwise the pigeons might start crapping on other things.

    July 18, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
  14. noteaparty4me

    Take the statue down and all that it represents will go with it. The victimization of children at the cover up of tha atrocities against those children all for the sake pf tjhe game or the great one, Paterno. Take the darn thing down and put it somewhere in a closet like the lies the university told and what they kept in the closet. This is one of the greatest lessons I have ever seen unfold for folks in answering that question about our priorities and what is really important in life. I don't know the specifics of how this story broke but I know all involved now know they failed to answer that question properly. The childrensl well being were obstacles in the way of winning a darn football game. And that is the greatest shame one has to live with for the rest of their lives. In the end, Joe Paterno was lucky. He does not have to live with that anymore.

    July 18, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Burbank

    The statue should be sold at auction rather than torn down and the money donated to helping children who have been victimx of ped. abuse. This college is wrong to make a shrine of a friviolous sport, they should be focused on education!

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

      @Burbank: The school is focused on education. The media is portraying this image that every Penn Stater does nothing but wake up, worship football, and go to bed. That simply isn't the case. There are 40,000 undergrad, thousands of graduate students, 160+ majors and several colleges across a vareity of disciplines. Seriously don't just eat up what CNN and every other news outlet is feeding you. Penn State (the students and professors and support staff) hate what happened to those poor kids. There is some disagreement on Paterno, but there is no disagreement that child abuse is wrong and that they can't ever let something like that happen again.

      July 18, 2012 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
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