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. TC

    While I ma in favor of decisive action and penalties against Penn St – ruining athletics is not what is in the long term best interest of the school and most importantly its students. Athletics plays a huge part of education and human growth and to cancel things just hurts innocent people and causes the damage done by Joepa and others to continue.

    July 18, 2012 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Karina

    no, it should go rather than serve as a constant reminder of this ugly piece of Penn State history. Any man who is not outraged by the abuse of a child by a man monster, and hushes the matter, is no man of dignity in my book.

    July 18, 2012 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
  3. WhoDatGirl77

    @Barney The point is that he knew of accusations (more than one over the span of 10 years) and did little to nothing about it. It is disgraceful that he thought more of his record than he did of those kids, which the Freeh Report has stated pretty clearly with tons of evidence to back up those allegations. Nobody said he was in the room. They did say he knew what was happening on campus and didn't make sure JS was arrested. That is aiding and abetting my brutha.

    July 18, 2012 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • DLKPSU

      For all of you believe this is only a PSU cover up you are sorely mistaken. This goes much deeper into the Penn state government. So maybe we should just burn the whole state down. By the way the report you are holding to 100% truthful and factual was conducted by man who is being investigated by the FBI for tampering with evidence and possibly sending innocent ppl to jail. But Freeh's report is probably not a biases conjecture based on one mans oppinions. A man who was paid 6.5 million dollars and cant afford a paper shredder.

      July 19, 2012 at 10:14 am | Report abuse |
  4. conoclast

    Don't take the offending statue down; simply turn it so that it faces the other way, just as in real life. Tearing down the statue would be like asking the world to simply forget it ever happened; what we need is to be reminded that our faith in our l"leaders" is often quite blind.

    July 18, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      Best solution I've yet heard! Brilliant!

      July 18, 2012 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Brian

    PSU leadership = "Hey Jer, stop buggering kids on campus. Bugger them somewhere else, OK?" That kind of inspirational leadership definitely justifies a statue!

    July 18, 2012 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
  6. PedophileStateU

    I refuse to hire PSU graduates or allow them to join my project.

    July 18, 2012 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • girlintheflowerdress

      Really? Would you mind telling everybody on here what your project is? Or company, or whatever? Because that happens to be discrimination.

      July 18, 2012 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Howard Stern

    Paterno is a Right-Wing Pedophile

    July 18, 2012 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Ticktockman0

    Sure it should stay. And Germany should erect a statue to Hitler as well.

    Please...

    July 18, 2012 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Howard Stern

    Paterno is an old Right-Wing Farthead

    July 18, 2012 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Ben

    Leave it up. Both to honor his legacy as a coach, and as a reminder to people that they can become giants and icons, but that a bad decision, or a failure to make the right choice can lead to one's downfall. Maybe add a plaque below the one that's already on there, pointing this out. It's a more powerful lesson. There's nothing honorable or righteous about removing a statue dedicated to him. There is something righteous about teaching people not to make the same mistake he did.

    July 18, 2012 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Sunnysout

    you are right, there is nothing that shows Paterno did anything illegal about this horrible situation..... nothing, zilch.... including acting morally when he knew damn well that Sandusky was doing questionable things. Oddly a high-ranking director gets fired when she stands up to Paterno, because she is not fitting in in the "Penn State way". JoePa was at the root of that action, too. I guess he felt it not fair to disgrace Sandusky, and let him continue to have access to the football athletics- Is THAT in the interest of the "Penn State way", keeping around some pedo and allowing him continued access to the campus? He had every bit of power to put a stop to this, but chose to turn a blind eye and then uses the excuse that he told those in authority and trusted they would do what is necessary. He should be ashamed of himself and if I were his kid, I would be incredibly embarrassed by what my father didn't do that wasn't illegal.

    July 18, 2012 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
  12. FrozenTundra

    Remove it. As a society, we should not be in the position of asking such questions to begin with. We should stop creating permanent tributes to living people. Until a person dies, there is plenty of time for him/her to commit or condone sinful acts. If Joe Paterno's statue wasn't there to begin with, few if anyone would even consider mermorializing him.

    July 18, 2012 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
  13. JT

    I love the people who want to keep it up. Why don't you just put a statue of Cardinal Law next to it?

    July 18, 2012 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
  14. bebe

    He was no hero, just a jerk. Most if not all coaches are a different species, not human. They have no fear, no emotion, and last but not least, no human compassion. Let's put a rope around hist statue and one, two, three, drag it down like Sadam Hussain.

    July 18, 2012 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
  15. akduck1

    I voted yes, especially because the statute is a lightning rod for the controversy, and this needs to calm down. Also, if the facts don't get better for Joe, his legacy is a wreck. I wouldn't destroy the statue, though. We may yet get information helpful to Paterno through the family and the trials that are yet to come.

    July 18, 2012 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
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