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. Lasto

    Not only should the statue be removed, the NCAA should step in and BAN Penn State from EVER playing football again. Only complete idiots continue to defend Penn St., Paterno and all the other rats in that school's administration. REAL consequences must befall Penn St., REAL CONSEQUENCES.
    PS: You think that Penn St. is the only bad actor? Closer looks at other large football schools will reveal other cultures of fear and intimidation.

    July 18, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    Yes, the statue should stay at the school to remind parents never to send their kids to that university. Furthermore, that football program should be abandoned.

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

    Get it off the campus. Sell it to the Paterno family and get back some of that $5 million he negotiated before he finally told the board what he knew. If they don't want it, auction it off to the highest bidder and give the proceeds to Sandusky's victims.

    July 18, 2012 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Andrea

    NO! The statue should stay. Furthermore, the students and players should not be penalized for something they had no control over.

    July 18, 2012 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Marcos H. Rivera

      But NOW as in TODAY they KNOW !!! That gives them plenty of control Over it... let me tell you not only the statue is going... the entire football program is OUT !!! Public School Should be NON PROFIT !!! so that we all can afford them !!!

      July 18, 2012 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Lucas

    Lets just cut off the statues head and put a KISS head on there

    July 18, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Bit

    Why should his statue be there anyway? Do Universities exist to educate or do they exist only to be a Pro sports scouting ground?

    It'll be a good day when the NFL, NBA, NHL, etc has to have a bake sale to pay for uniforms.

    July 18, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  7. tilmeismoney

    use it for a head stone.

    July 18, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  8. observer

    for a minute, let's pretend that he is up there –

    July 18, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
  9. vert2013

    They should take it down because Paterno doesn't deserve a statue, he was a pedophile enabler. I also think that if they choose to leave it, a lot more people will turn on Penn State. No matter their reasoning for keeping it, people will speculate that they are condoning his behavior. Lastly, if they keep it, it's a sitting duck for vandalism. So many people are outraged by Paterno's behavior, the statue will be a target. I doubt Penn State has the resources to pay someone to guard a statue 24/7.

    July 18, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
  10. sandy

    Seriously I can't believe that many people would leave his statue up!! WOW!

    July 18, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
  11. breadthofbeing

    The statue was put up to represent a long legacy of athletic excellence. Just because Paterno did terrible things, his football legacy will not fade. But now the statue represents an additional idea: That those in positions of authority can and have made poor decisions that have deeply affected the lives of individuals and the spirit of a community. If we allow the statue to be taken down, there is a chance that the second idea–the one that holds people in power to a high and moral standard–will be forgotten. This situation is awful, but without the statue, it is awfully forgettable. Let it be a lesson to future leaders. You may be incredibly successful in one arena, but you also have an obligation to do right by the people you represent and those who cannot stand up for themselves.

    July 18, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • shinden58

      If the statue stays it indicates that Paterno got away with it. Destroy or sell the statue, with the proceeds going to the victims. Most of all shut down the football program immediately for 5 years. Hit Penn State where it hurts. They definitely deserve it.

      July 18, 2012 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
  12. mommers

    It's an ugly statue. They should knock it down whether or not Paterno is guilty.

    July 18, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Alex

    let his name be removed from everyting; Penn State should be removed from the NCAA
    but as we all know money talks and i am sure people are getting paid off. Let hope that those who sufferred get paid first.
    Joe " I did not know" Paterno good thing he died for Sandusky he could blame Joe. Did Sandusky commit suicide yet i bet 2-1 he is going to do it. Those guys in prision are lining up now Yipeee here it comes the whacker train get plenty of vasoline brother you wioll need it

    July 18, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Old Bulldawg

    At this time it would be premature to remove the statue. It would make the leaders of PSU look even worse if they had to restore the statue at a later date when all the facts are in. There are still the trials of Paterno's superiors as well as the appeals of Sandusky. Even the validity of the Freeh report begs the question "who hired the Freeh group". This matter has not been resolved, but rather has only begun.

    July 18, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • lest we forget

      the board of trustees hired freeh to do the report. i really don't understand how any intelligent person can defend this man or this school. the football program should be stopped. the school is a disgrace. place of higher learning?? i don't think so

      July 18, 2012 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
  15. dmw

    How about removing the statue and placing a plaque that reads "You are known by the friends you keep"?

    July 18, 2012 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
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