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

Post by:
Filed under: College football • Crime • Football • Jerry Sandusky • Joe Paterno • Justice • Penn State • Pennsylvania • Sports
soundoff (616 Responses)
  1. The Master

    Who cares either way?

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

    One word: Timberrrrrrrr!!!!!

    July 18, 2012 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Bzarr

    If Paterno was such a bad guy, why was he so celebrated for so long. Maybe he could have and should have done more. So maybe he made a mistake. He is dead and gone leave him alone and leave the statue alone. Thousands will remember him for the good he did. Not his failures.

    July 18, 2012 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • rosie

      Only he should have been fired for what he did not do. People suffered because he kept quiet. That is what we cannot forgive or forget. Don't get me wrong, I grew up admiring and liking Jo Pa, but finding out now that he could have stopped Sandusky and did nothing kind of wipes the slate clean.

      July 18, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • clark

      I don't give a Rats A** what they do with the statue.. Before Sandusky I didn't know there was a Paterno Statue.

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

      Wrong, sir!

      July 18, 2012 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mom of 2

      "If Paterno was such a bad guy, why was he so celebrated for so long." Hmmmm...perhaps because he chose, like others to let Jerry Sandusky continue abusing little boys to avoid tarnishing the football program, and essentially covered up what was happening. Now ...after all these years, his lack of a moral compass comes to light. Being idolized in the context of sports does not make someone a good person!

      July 18, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • jenny

      but, millions will hear his name and know disgust, we will remember him as the biggest coward of our time and we are praying none of your thousandsof cult members have children

      July 18, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Grahamalam

      why was he celebrated for so long? are you thick? might be because no one new he had a hand in touching little boys for over 20 years. pun intended. the man is rotting in hell and you think his statue should stay?

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

      Very sad that people like you do not get why people are so outraged at your JoePa.
      What part of he turned his back & allowed children to be sodomized & molested by his friend, the pedophile, do you not get??? Also, he created an atmosphere, where subordinates trembled in fear rather than speak out against anyone in the 'football program'...choosing to let children suffer in severe victimization, rather than sulley his precious program.

      He deserves to have his name/image wiped off the face of that university.

      July 18, 2012 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
  4. DCA

    The University needs to pay a significant price such as no football for three years for the pattern of both passive and active deception in never taking any real iniative to confront the red flags which Jerry Sandusky continued to wave thoughout the years while showering and rooming with young boys in football facilities and while at football games...Had Jerry and Joe not been football coaches at Penn State they never would have gotten away with this. A very sad and sick culture existed and must be swept clean....thoroughly clean!!!

    July 18, 2012 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
  5. rep

    They should quietly remove it and replace it with something generic/football or PSU-related. Seems like the least the university can do to let everyone know that what Paterno did was completely unacceptable and can be in no way overshadowed or forgotten simply because of his accomplishments in football.

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

    i am in the minority here. but to me the statue was erected to honor a man that helped PSU win so many games. Are those games not won anymore? is the past wins that paterno had gone? No, these wins are history they are what PSU hired him to do..he did it...and they honored him with a statue. It was for his wins. The wins are still valid. so the statue is still valid. I do not agree with his part in this coverup but it is not the reason the statue was erected in the first place. so unless the reason for the statue in the first place is found invalid the statue should remain.

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

      Even though your arguement is redicules, i will point out that the reason Joe Pa and the Administration covered this up was they were afraid that those wins would go away if thie scandal broke, so they systematically covered it up and let a monster keep raping children. They covered it up to win more games, which makes your arguement invalid. Having a statue is an honor and he lost his honorability because his actions caused children to be abused.

      July 18, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • colfootballfan

      Pam – then by staying it shows that the football coach and the department trumps what's right because of power and money. This man was willing to sacrafice his legacy to protect his program from unwanted publicity. Keeping it under the rug as he continued to coach to be the "most winning coach" Having a young son I feel sick to my stomach how much this man was idolized and knew what was happening – he along with the four others deserve punishment – he died before these reports came out. He shouldn't be considered a hero in his death. He was a mandatory reporter and convinced the others to keep it on the down low! But if that statue remains – it will be a grim reminder of a man who put himself first and had ultimately more power than the University President.

      July 18, 2012 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • jenny

      wins by a man whom people trusted as being honest and caring..........those days are gone....he was not only a coward but a con artist to the public, administrators and students.....he did it all under false pretense, everything of his MUST GO NOW...it was all a lie and the hands of children

      July 18, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Truthdetector

      So put up a statue representing the PLAYERS, not the villain who put 'image' & programs above the safety, security & well-being of children. he does not deserve to represent the players wins.

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

    MAYBE THEY SHOULD JUST COVER IT UP...

    July 18, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • colfootballfan

      ha! Best one yet!

      July 18, 2012 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • sahari

      That is FUNNNNNNYYYYYY!!!!!!!!!!

      July 18, 2012 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Owl96

    I love these polls that give you two stupid choices. Tear it down or leave it. How about just move it to a closet until someone offers to buy it for a large sum of money. Then let them remove it from campus. Maybe just move it somewhere and surround it with bird feeders. Lost of options other than total destruction. It should go away though. Joe kept Sandusky around knowing he was a felon. Sandusky should have been in prison. Keeping him gave Penn State an on-field advantage, and a recruiting advantage, a situation which Paterno promoted.

    July 18, 2012 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • pm

      You could melt it down and re-cast it in honor of Penn State's only heisman winner...John Cappiletti...

      July 18, 2012 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
  9. WS

    It should be allowed to stand only if they add a kneeling boy to the front of it.

    July 18, 2012 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
  10. D.O'Connor

    Enough facts have been revealed to support a position that Joe knew more than he reveaaled. As an educator and leader he was obliged to behave at a higher standard – perhaps even the hightest standard. The PSU football program has long been the priority of the PSU leadership – even at the cost of human decency. TEAR THE STATUE DOWN. TEAR DOWN THE FOOTBALL STADIUM. FIRE THE COACHES AND GET BACK TO EDUCATING YOUNG PEOPLE.

    July 18, 2012 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
  11. John G.

    Who cares about a statue? The real question is how come the University president and all of those who covered it up still be employed there?!? Just wait until the BIG civil suit comes...

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

    if joe paterno could speak for himself, i think he would say something like this – "folks, i am soooo sorry that i took football and winning so seriously that i allowed it to cloud my better judgement – you see, since i have been up here, i understand that winning is not as important as i use to and i had way too much pride and power – i have learned that humility is the way to go – take down that statue of me – i should have objected to it in the first place but i didn't know then what i have learned. please forgive me for my mistakes and let it all go and get beyond what is happening. let's do right and have a new beginning – penn state is still a good school with or without my statue. work to make that part of pennsylvania better than it was when i was there. thank you for listening to me – i needed to speak out.

    July 18, 2012 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • wondering

      IF JOE COULD SPEAK HE WOULD SAY, " IT'S HOT AS HELL DOWN HERE."

      July 18, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • pm

      Joe isn't "up there" as you put it Observer...if you believe in heaven and hell, he isn't up...if you believe in purgatory, he'll be there for a long, long time. You see, if there is a God, he doesn't care about football wins, but he does care about someone enabling a moster to abuse children.

      July 18, 2012 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • jenny

      you mean "down here" right?.....i'm positive those upper gates where not opened....

      July 18, 2012 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
  13. taxedmore

    It should stay with a large bronze screw in his b u t t !

    July 18, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
  14. wondering

    HERE IS YOUR SIGN PENN TRUSTEES, "STUPID"

    July 18, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Lewy

    Move it to the men's locker room shower.

    July 18, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27