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. digital

    Of course !!! But add a little boy holding Sandusky's sausage right by the statue!!!

    July 18, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Peter

    The name Joe Paterno will forever and for all time be associated with child abuse. As it should. Burn in H E L L Jo-Ped.

    July 18, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
  3. The light

    Keeping his statue up would would be like keeping up Saddam Hussein's statue up. Saddam was a monster to his country and Joe was a monster to his town and University. Get a tank and rip that bizatch down!

    July 18, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Josh

      Very well put!

      July 18, 2012 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • A. Lincoln

      Or erect a statue of Hitler. I can't believe this is even question. Why not a statue of Richard Speck, or Charles Manson for God's sake. The question is a no brainer......just another indication of how much college sports programs carry weight over an actual education.

      July 18, 2012 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Anomic Office Drone

    The report commission by Penn State said Paterno was complicit in the coverup. Of course they should tear the statue down.

    July 18, 2012 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Anomic Office Drone

    The report commissioned by Penn State said Paterno was complicit in the coverup. Of course they should tear the statue down.

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

    Who really cares what Bobby Bowden thinks. He's been bitter ever since Paterno passed him in the wins column.

    July 18, 2012 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Arlie Bartholomew

    I think they should just turn it around, so he is looking the other way.

    July 18, 2012 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  8. friel

    They should take it down and actually prove to people that they truely do value people/children over football. Football is not life. They need to show the victims they are sorry for what happened. Paterno might not have technically done anything wrong but a real, decent, honest man would have stood up for children. You speak up when someone is being abused, you dont look the other way. Whatever good he's done for football has been over shadowed by this. He did it to himself. If he were as amazing as everyone says, he would have done something about it. Take the statue down!

    July 18, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
  9. icurheinie

    Some of the Paterno die-hards in the PSU community need to get off the bong. Paterno, whether they like it or not, will always be known nationally as a name that enabled pedophilia for decades. The shame is placed squarely on your shoulders.

    July 18, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Paul Roberts

    Absolutely leave the statue up. Paterno was an amazing coach. Just as importantly though was turning a blind eye to these henious acts by Sandusky, so in a very prominent place, within twenty feet, also put up a sign that describes what happened and Paterno's role in it. Then talk about the importance of protecting our youth from those who would take advantage of them.
    Make it a teachable moment.

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

      Teachable moment? It could have been over years ago if Paterno decided to do the "right thing" rather than protect Sandusky and University from Scandal. Is not about teaching but rather having the knowledge and have some humanity and diginity to do what was right for these children. Greedy and Selfishness is all this shows..take the statue DOWN!

      July 18, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      I like this thinking. I'd be ok seeing the statue in the sports hall next door, tastefully displayed along with the other trophies/articles/etc. A section should be created that tells this ongoing tale of criminal activity, investigations, etc...let the museum professionals handle this part but indeed lay bare the whole story for all to see and interpret for themselves.

      July 18, 2012 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Daddy Rabbit

    It needs to go, along with the entire top administration and PSU board. Fire them all now.

    July 18, 2012 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • A. Lincoln

      You want to teach PSU a lesson? Everyone paying for their kids "education" at PSU should pull their kids out of the school. Money is the ONLY thing they understand. I also feel the school should be barred from the NCAA for ten years. WAY too much emphasis is put on sports by colleges in this country and the coaches make WAY too much money. It's SPORTS folks, that's all it is, it's a game. Aside from lazy parents in this country I think it's one of the reasons this country is so far behind and falling further in subjects like math and the sciences. I mean, a scholarship for being able to play a game??? How about scholarships for what you know that matters in life?

      July 18, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Jo

    I can't believe it's going to take them 7-10 days to make what should be an obvious decision.....TAKE IT DOWN so the healing can begin. Period.

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

    I kind of think the statue should stay – but not for reasons most people may assume. I believe that one very positive result of all of this is that the level of awareness for this sort of abuse has skyrocketed. Joe P. was seemingly invincible in both in character and accomplishment over a very long period of time. Yet, all of this was absolutely destroyed in a relatively short time frame. We need people to remember this so that if faced with a similar situation they will not make the same poor decisions.

    Had something else attempted to tarnish his reputation (e.g. recruiting violations) it would have stirred up the media, but would most likely have had little or no impact on his legacy. However, his legacy is now absolutely destroyed and it is even more remarkable that he himself did not commit the actual crimes (although it is indeed arguable that he committed some crime by not reporting). This tells us that society has made the correct judgement of him.

    We should not forget Joe P. by attempting to remove every evidence of his past presence. Instead we should preserve such to remind others what it truly important (the welfare of children vs. a football program), so that we do not forget the past. However, they may want to add a sign stating "Lest we ever forget right from wrong" or maybe a statue of a child in the background staring at him.

    July 18, 2012 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • pmn

      You don't need to leave a statue up just to teach and bring awareness people about child abuse and pediophiles. A good thing is the case has brought about an awareness of child abuse that goes beyound just the Catholic Church. It happening everywhere and people need to be taught not remind of statue of someone who made really, really poor choices to let it continue.

      July 18, 2012 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Hey

    They should keep the statue IF they put "Defender of Pedophiles" below where it says Coach, Educator, Humanitarian.

    July 18, 2012 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Mk82LALD

    The statue should be replaced with a life-size statue of a small boy crying, head bowed and face In hands, with a plaque that reads " evil triumphs when good men do nothing."

    July 18, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
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