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. SallyLoo

    I believe the statue should stay and not for the reasons some have stated. It should stand as a monument to the victims of his betrayal . I have written this before, I still believe it to be true. Joe Paterno set a code of honor for Penn State – a standard of excellence – yet, WHEN a TRUE test of HONOR was presented to him, he CHOSE the cowards way out and looked the other way OR did the minimal amount to ease his conscience. Let the monument stay...it will be a reminder of Papa Joe's betrayl of the young people he tried to inspire with his questionable code of honor.

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

    Mob mentality, here we go again. Don't you think the Board at Penn. State told him to look the other way and keep his mouth shut? Board – 'It would be bad for the school and bad for business.' It's all about greed.

    July 18, 2012 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Truthdetector

    It's a god-awful, ugly thing anyway...finally a reason to remove it!

    July 18, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
  4. a disgrace

    obama supports gays now and days sandusky did nothing wrong!

    July 18, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • sqeptiq

      Try that thought again in english.

      July 18, 2012 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Paul

      You are a disgrace

      July 18, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
  5. sqeptiq

    Leave the statue up, but put another smaller one in front of it of the three monkeys who hear, see and speak no evil.

    July 18, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
  6. April

    Keep the statue up, but put a bronze statue beside it of several children, in a group–anonymous children. A plaque would go up that states "To remind us that child abuse should never be tolerated by anyone!"

    July 18, 2012 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Dan

    If they remove the statue, then remove the Paterno library too

    July 18, 2012 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • JenniferK8

      Exactly!! And give the Paterno family back the millions of dollars they re-invested in the school. No one really knows what JoePa knew because Mr. Freeh declined to interview him – seven times before JoePa died. In my opinion, if Mr. Freeh planned to crucify a man and his legacy, he should have had the decency to interview him.

      July 18, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      You don't remove a library, but you do rename it....

      July 18, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Mark

    If PSU doesn't take it down, somebody will. There are more than enough angry people in America who hate Paterno these days, and sooner or later, the statue will be severely vandalized and/or destroyed. It's not like they can have an armed guard watching the statue 24-7. If I were Joe Pa, I'd rather have my statue removed quietly and respectfully by Penn State rather than angrily destroyed by a mob like freakin Saddam Hussein. I think it is more respectful to Paterno as well as the victims to just take it down and get it over.

    July 18, 2012 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Rogelio

    Anyone at Penn State that enabled this abuser should have their names, pictures etc removed from the school including themselves. Even though I was never a Penn State fan I always had great respect for Paterno as I do for Bowden from FSU. Shame on all.

    July 18, 2012 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
  10. pmn

    Take it down..I do not think the university needs a reminder of the tainted reputation Paterno helped make his mark on the school. Its Shameful!

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

    Hope they leave it up so one day I will be able to take my son to the stadium and say "Look son, here stands a man that represents Penn State, do you know what he did besides winning football games? He protected a child molester from being caught, this Child Molester then went on to Molest more children for years to come."

    Son asks.....Why would you leave this statue up?

    July 18, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • jenny

      because son, the board of trustees are not as smart as they want us to believe.....actually by doing nothing they where just as cowardly...they want to look the other way just like everyoe involved, after all son, "its the PS way".

      July 18, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Texas Charlie

    Why not build a small jail cell around the statute? Poetic justice, even if Paterno escaped one in real life.

    July 18, 2012 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
  13. jenny

    so, theres 34 EDUCATED ADULTS and they are not sure what to do.....hahahah, where did they get they get their higher education PS? what a joke, 7-10 days to decide.....took the american people 2 minutes.....the board is just making this worse for innocent students.....step down now....

    July 18, 2012 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
  14. 72 Opinions

    Keep the statue with a brief of full bio of the fallen hero. As a reminder to future generations that no matter what good you do, if you let evil exist, your reputation/memory/life is ruined. Take the statue down – the tragic lesson is forgotten – history is cleansed.

    July 18, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Mark

    Put a statue of the Victims there instead

    July 18, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
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