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. Be Reasonable

    Remove all references to Paterno, including the statue. But I don't see any reason to punish their football team for the sins of their leaders. Just replace the leaders.

    July 18, 2012 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  2. yourlogicisflawed

    Tear it down. I went to a college where the library was named after a local Bishop. When it was found that he protected molester priests, his name was promptly removed from the building. Paterno's image has no place being glorified. He should only be remembered as the NCAA football winngest molester protector.

    July 18, 2012 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
  3. phaque2

    Why doesn't somebody just irrevocably deface the statue?

    July 18, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • rufud

      they have a guard stationed 24/7

      July 18, 2012 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Brad

    Revisionism is the best way to hide the truth. We don't like what he did, but we at one point did. What changed other than the man who we thought was great turned out not to be? Keep the statute, but put the truth of what he did under it. Never forget and never have someone do the same thing again.

    July 18, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
  5. IwantNaturalSelection

    Hey RetireVet... don't go throwing your "freedom of speech" crap at me... i never once said i condone Joe Paterno's actions... i have a problem with the immature people who say stupid things like "the statue should have joe paterno standing on the backs of kids" or " erect a statue of jerry showering Joe Pa". Stupid comments like these prove the ignorance of people in this country. And i'm not leaving you out... your ignorant comment about leaving the country is just as bad. You make assumptions you know everything. I wish people like you left this country!

    July 18, 2012 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Chris R.

    hhhmmmm. Well, everyone on this blog is human (I think). We have all made mistakes and didn't do what we should have done (that was right). While I agree that this whole situation is horrible and more should have been done, it is easy to say that with out having been apart of a 'Good ol'Boy' Network. Think of it as those popular kids at school who always have to impress their friends. It can take a strong person to some times break away from that type of atmosphere and do what is right. A lot of people don't have that in them to do it. Should the statue stay or go? That is not for me or you to say but rather the students who make that school a school. It should be their choice to either see all the good this one coach did over his 46+ years or the few mistakes he made. To say someone should be completely perfect and fault free their entire life is – well ridiculous. What did this coach do that was GREAT? Lets here that first. We already know what he did that wasn't (well at least one thing he did).

    July 18, 2012 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sunnysout

      it's the very reason that he did so much good, that the statue should be removed. This man was a saint at this school for 46yrs. That community held him in high regard and bestowed him with celebrity status! He created and lead the Good ol boys club. No one can deny that he did his job well as head coach of the Penn State football team. Unfortunately, when you make bad decisions or no decisions at all, you risk all the good that has been done. Imagine if he had acted as a moral, responsible adult, and as a man who has children and was the one to rid the school of a pedophile, rather than enabling him? Imagine if when Sandusky was allowed to retire in 1999 if Paterno stated Sandusky is NOT allowed anywhere near the campus?

      July 18, 2012 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
  7. warchant

    Leave it there but rotate it 180 degrees, so good'ole JoPa, can look the other way for eternity!

    July 18, 2012 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Willie12345

    It's being moved to Vatican City, ........ didn't you know ??

    July 18, 2012 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
  9. shinden58

    So if the school wants to worship a pedophile enabler with a statue we should allow them? Face it a lot of college students don't get it. All they can think about is their vaulted football program. Lets sack the entire PSU sports team for 5 years. That would send a message to all schools that put athletic programs above innocent kids/victims. Paterno had a pattern of protecting his players and not forcing them the play by the rules. Would Penn state keep the statue of a History professor who did the same thing?

    July 18, 2012 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
  10. ayojay

    IIf you want your opinion on the Joe Pa statue to count, make sure you register for fall classes quickly! the deadline's approaching!

    July 18, 2012 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
  11. WhoDatGirl77

    Oh, please. Taking down the statue is a meager concession for the univeristy to pay for their blatant disregard for those children's emotional and physical welfare. Penn State is a football school. They have made billions of dollars off of their football program, and because of this fact they let children be victimized ON THEIR OWN CAMPUS and harbored the pedophile committing the crimes. The best way for this university to pay for their crimes and insure that they will remain vigilant in the future is to hit them where it hurts. That would be 5 years minimum without a football program. Give all the students in the football program penalty free transfers to other universities so their ability to play football and get their respective educations isn't forfeit. But truly, this is the only way a real lesson can be learned.

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

    Remove the statue but leave the pedestal. Honor gone, but shameful reminder of what happens with power.

    July 18, 2012 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
  13. CAC

    On its face this is a ridiculous question. Tear the thing down and do it now.

    July 18, 2012 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
  14. DRMag

    tear the statue down–quit idolizing criminals - melt it and sell the proceeds to a scrap dealer.

    July 18, 2012 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Byrd

    No. Tear it down immediately. He knew all along. Penn State should lose its entire NCAA athletic program as it's more than apparent that they're criminally negligent in their past actions and totally incompetent in their care of this country's youth.

    Tear down the goal posts too while you're at it.

    July 18, 2012 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
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