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. Carly

    These Penn state folks need professional help – their rioting and denial over this issue is shocking and appauling. If this is all that defines this university – its pretty sad.

    July 18, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Bob

    This is for ( Vince professor) Make a statue of your Child Bending over.

    July 18, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Just a Thought...

    Somehow I think tearing down the statue would be the easy way out for Penn State and the college football faithful. It might better serve as a reminder of a culture gone bad. The addition of a few kids would clarify the point.

    July 18, 2012 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Eddie O.

    I hope the NCAA puts many nails in the Penn State coffin. Karma baby!

    July 18, 2012 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gary Hudson

      Karma for who? The current students and staff who did not have anything to do with this?

      July 18, 2012 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • sckc

      Garry it's very likely the NCAA will take away football for a period of time. Look at other schools who have had this happen for much lesser infractions. The school adminstration and culture contributed to this mess – the school as a whole will suffer for it. It's the administration's fault. That's life.

      July 18, 2012 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
  5. SMH

    I hate that "Joe Pa" let those kids down, at the same time i dont think its up to us to say what should be taken down at PSU. i think the students at PSU should vote on it, its THEIR school and they should have the right to say "STAY OR GO". for its their tuition that will be going up VERY SOON!!

    July 18, 2012 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sandee

      When an individual, in this case Paterno, engages in behavior that harms children....we all get to decide. Afterall, Penn State is a public school which makes this issue a public matter..

      July 18, 2012 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
  6. JD

    You know, I don't agree with how he handled the situation with the pedophile but if we too down every statue of an individual that made a bad decision or had a moral failure pigeons would have nothing but our cars to crap on.

    July 18, 2012 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Meg

      This was more than just a bad decision – innocent children were involved who got harmed just so Paterno, et al could protect their precious football program

      July 18, 2012 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • ProperVillain

      I think knowingly aiding a pedophile goes way beyond "moral failure" and into the territory of "deplorable human being". You must be a sports fan....

      July 18, 2012 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jeff

    Keep the statue but give the death penalty to the football program.

    July 18, 2012 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
  8. stateschool

    Move it into the men's room.

    July 18, 2012 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
  9. TiredODaCrap

    What purpose would taking the statue down actually serve? To further hide the man who did nothing to stop all of this? To make Penn State a little less self conscious about his time there and what went on under his watch? I've heard others say you need to build a new statue to support the victims. Really? That's what they want? "Hey, son. Check out this statue here as we go into the game. It supports me from the times I was brutalized by a monster that happened to be a Penn State football coach." I doubt any of them would want that.
    If anything, I feel like Peen State should be FORCED to keep the statue up! What better reminder of what happened – and who allowed it to happen – than to have a memorial riight out in front of the stadium/program he did everything he could to protect? Sounds like a fitting punishment if you ask me.

    July 18, 2012 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Patrick

    I was completely in support of Paterno not being the scapegoat in this scandal, but now that all theses emails and communications that he was copied on have come to light, I am disgusted and think that everything that is Paterno should be taken down.

    July 18, 2012 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • JenniferK8

      While I understand and respect your point of view, Joe Paterno was notorious for never using email as a form of communication. No one really knows whether he read a single one of them.

      July 18, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Ed

    Of course the statute should come down. Not because of anything Paterno did or didn't do, but because the vocal minority want it down and the silent majority are content to just sit back, sigh and shake their heads.

    July 18, 2012 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
  12. sbp

    And once again, the reply feature does not work correctly.

    July 18, 2012 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Douglas

      Seems OK to me.

      July 18, 2012 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
  13. ProperVillain

    No, leave it there. Because it is perfectly normal to keep the statue of someone who knowingly aided a convicted pedophile in a place of honor (read sarcasm). His football record means nothing. His actions in the cover up shows that he was a deplorable human being whose ego was more important than innocent children. Statues are for heros and great men. He is neither.

    July 18, 2012 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
  14. mdill404

    kill the school... close it all down... fire everone .... pedophiles shoudl be wipe off the face of the earth...

    July 18, 2012 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • sad

      I have been a PSU employee for 10 years. I have never been to a football game. I had never even heard of Sandusky until this hit. Do you think I should lose my job because of a man that I've ever met? Blame the 40,000 students and many employees because of the bad actions of a few? There are many very good people who work at PSU who didn't have anything to do with this. I don't think you understand the scope of this. Sandusky's actions (and our horrible leaders) have hurt the whole community. But your comments don't take into account all the innocent people who live and work in the community.

      July 18, 2012 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Jerry

    That's up to them to decide. I don't care.

    July 18, 2012 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
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