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. Howard Stern

    Just Leave it there and Put a statue of Sandusky in front of it where he if fingering his asss with his Finger

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

    The post is about the football program itself, not the statue, so clearly you haven't read it. And had you read it, you would have also noticed in the comment section that it is not about protecting Joe Paterno's reputation, because that would be useless at this point in time, but about realizing that he was just as much at fault as anyone else involved. The post is about making it known that the Penn State students, all of which, at this point, were not even thinking about college when these atrocities occurred, are not at fault, and should not be punished, but rather the people involved themselves.

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

    Paterno: winning coach. Loser human. The statue is a permanent reminder of Paterno's epic fail. Please spare us and take it down.

    July 18, 2012 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Outsider

    He did more for the university than NOT stop Sandusky. The man is dead. He can't tell his side. He is being a scape goat. You think he knew? How many people get on TV and confess they never knew their neighbor, relatives, or who ever was a molester or killer or whatever. If Sandusky's wife didn't know, how was Paterno to know for sure? You don't know if Paterno covered it up, or just didn't believe it. He spent many years doing great things for people, but you have judged him for another man's sickness.

    July 18, 2012 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
  5. E. Amos

    Just turn the statue around, so he's, you know, "looking the other way".

    July 18, 2012 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Tim

    Everyone is worried about Patino – WHAT ABOUT THE KIDS – You all sticking up for him, what if it was your son, brother or nephew? I think you would have a different opinion. Not unless you condone this kind of crap.

    July 18, 2012 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Real

    One thing is for sure, this has opened my eyes on how ignorant people are. Unthinkable things happened to children by a sick man. This scandal is about him and the 4 individuals who no matter what did not do enough or looked the other way. Why do people have to say horrible things about the people of penn state who are innocent in all this. Take statue down keep it up..take names off things...what have you. Focus gets shifted to irrelevant materialistic stuff. Media goes crazy...what makes any of this a better...it also does not change anything...so sad. I have children...I am a pennstater...think before you write hurtful comments. Unfortunately this will go in one ear and out the other. I will just pray and hope for good.

    July 18, 2012 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Bob

    I think they should take it down. If they have some weird need to keep it up they should at least move it to somewhere else. Leaving it up, anywhere, will only draw vandals to deface it. If someone is going out of their way to fly over the school and threaten the well-being of the statue then you can bet on it being defaced.
    I still don't understand why people are still defending Paterno. What he did was wrong. Does it wipe away the good things he did while he was here? No. But it does taint his reputation and his entire legacy. The man turned his head and did nothing when children were being abused for the sake of a game. The NCAA has come down hard on other folks in the past so it will be interesting to see what happens with PSU football. Obviously, they need to get back to the roots of what college is about and that's education and well being. Once this is accomplished then they can get their game back.

    July 18, 2012 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Mike

    Is that business days?

    July 18, 2012 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
  10. mr pibb

    Seems pretty simple to me. The majority of taxpayers want that creepy looking statue taken down. If it was a private school, symbols of perversion could be erected and the taxpaying public would have no say. Penn St receives state and federal funds and the people have right to voice their opinion. Are the trustees elected or appointed in Pennsylvania? In any case, we all will see if they have the courage to do the right thing. Based on history before and after the scandal, I have little confidence. During my time in Pennsylvania and Happy Valley, I always thought people there a little quirky, now I know how sociopathic they are as a group.

    " WE ARE.. ....creepy and twisted"

    July 18, 2012 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      Well, that's a sweeping generalization that is just as creepy...get over yourself.

      July 18, 2012 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
  11. BAN PENN STATE

    Join out group... Penn State deserves the DEATH PENALTY!

    July 18, 2012 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tom

      And while you are at it -- close the school - put everyone out of work - yea that will make everything all better.

      July 18, 2012 at 11:01 pm | Report abuse |
  12. banasy©

    Personally, I think they should ban FB, but oh, well.

    July 18, 2012 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • StatusStillUp

      Personally, I think you should graduate the 8th grade

      July 19, 2012 at 9:48 am | Report abuse |
  13. cher

    I think without question the statue should be taken away and any other paraphanalia that makes reminders of what happened at penn state. The school needs to bury this and move on if nothing else for the students., They do not need to be damaged by this. We have a new coach now lets get on with things. dragging this up iver and over again is not helping anything or anyone, Start fresh and let the authorities take care of what needs to be done.

    July 18, 2012 at 5:55 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Cher

    Get on with things! Statue must go and anyother things that are a reminder of what happened and went on at Penn State. The students are there to learn and participate in the activities at their school. Take all reminders away and then move on immediately! Not fair to students. Let authorities take care of the people that need to pay for this etc.

    July 18, 2012 at 5:58 pm | Report abuse |
  15. clare

    Get on with things. Take the statue down and everything that has to do with any of this mess. Left up it is just a daily reminder . Move on. Give the students a chance to enjoy being at penn state and get their education

    July 18, 2012 at 6:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kate

      Why not use it as an opportunity to learn a LESSON, at a school, no less. I'm sure there's a HIstory department at Penn State. Take the statue down, but replace it with something to teach others that when you turn your back, you are just as much to blame as the perpetrator. Teaching college kids to take a stand when they know a wrong is being commited is a perfect lesson.

      July 19, 2012 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
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