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. Nate

    It's defying and tragic; a man who I watched play coach in a cameo during one of the greatest movies ever made, Rudy (1993), would protect a pedophile 5 yrs later and more tragically, ensure emotional scares in more boys. There isn't a poll or a justification for leaving his statue up. We don't see a statue of the student/murderer on Virginia Tech campus. Yes, he was a great coach and then wasn't. Paterno is gone and so must every reminder at PS. - A Clemson University Alumnus

    July 18, 2012 at 6:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Linden

      That wasn't Joe Paterno in Rudy. Seriously??

      July 18, 2012 at 7:26 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Italics Mine

    Why would you want to expend all that energy to tear down a statue? Let it be a resting place for pigeons as a kind of just dessert.

    July 18, 2012 at 7:15 pm | Report abuse |
  3. corey

    regardless what they do with the statue, they still decided to honor his contract and monthly payments to his wife (??). even though he was terminated WITH cause.

    July 18, 2012 at 7:27 pm | Report abuse |
  4. RadZap

    Every time I see that statue, I wonder where that finger has been.

    July 18, 2012 at 8:13 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Mcihael in Canada

    Yes it must stay! It will represent the good and bad of what happened. The good is what he did for football there. More importantly it will remind everyone of the bad in what was done to save the university from embarrassment at the expense of the victims. In an ironic twist it staying in place will be a reminder to the victim's that they will never be forgotten and the statue when seen in derision will be the sourse of continuing embarrassment to the university.
    Keep it there and throw eggs at it!

    July 18, 2012 at 8:41 pm | Report abuse |
  6. It the truff

    It's Beaver Stadium. Forget Patrerno and Sandusky all together and erect a bigger than life beaver (1story tall).

    July 18, 2012 at 8:43 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Lynn

    The school needs to do the right thing and cancel the 2012 football season. The statue's coming down whether PSU officials decide to or not... Someone flew over the campus in a plane declaring so for eff's sake! Penn State students need to educate themselves (a novel concept for a university!) about the situation.

    July 18, 2012 at 9:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Delaware Dennis

      I agree completely.

      July 18, 2012 at 9:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sam Spade

      Why cancel the season? Why give them the death penalty? Were the player's involved in this? Do you think the next years players would have done this too? Looks like people are just shoot randomly taking innocents with them. Punish those involved and leave the rest alone.

      July 18, 2012 at 10:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tom

      How is that the right thing? What are you going to tell the guy who just lost his football scholarship? Sorry buddy! We are overreacting with all this, but you need to take one for the team. It seems that people responsible are either dead, fired or in jail. Why stop at the football team? Force the school to close!

      July 18, 2012 at 10:54 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Delaware Dennis

    Its sad that this is even an issue to those in the P.S.U. community . It is just proof that they just don't get it.

    July 18, 2012 at 9:17 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Delaware Dennis

    How can any human think this is a man deserving of a statue?

    July 18, 2012 at 9:19 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Raejean

    Since it's become clear that Paterno was indeed part of the problem and part of the reason why it continued unabated, how on earth can they justify enshrining his memory?

    July 18, 2012 at 9:44 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Hugh

    I don't think that the football season needs to be cancelled, but the statue should definitely go!

    July 18, 2012 at 9:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • TexanBogota

      I agree.

      July 19, 2012 at 7:56 am | Report abuse |
  12. Greek American

    IMO, take down the statue. I don't have anything against you people who think Paterno was so great, but those wins were over many many decades. Please divide the wins into the years and you should then better understand. Also, do you really think Paterno has really done anything in the past decade as far as actually coaching the football team? The answer is NO. Therefore, he is just a face or symbol for the program. In all reality he was just a living statue, a senior citizen, old man who knew nothing else to do with his life anyway.
    And to all you others talking about PSU returning Paterno's donations, don't you understand that the school was paying him the millions of dollars in salaries in the first place?
    Take the statue down because it most likely will come down somehow no matter what.

    July 18, 2012 at 9:55 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Paul Childs

    If the Freeh report is to be accepted as true, then no question the statue must go. To those for keeping the statue or unsure as to its fate: first imagine that there was no Joe Paterno statue. Then imagine someone purposing to erect a statue in Paterno's memory. Such a proposal would be ridiculous.

    July 18, 2012 at 9:57 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Andrew

    Educator, coach, and humanitarian. He definitely lost the right to call himself a humanitarian the second he left Sandusky to continue his atrocities towards those kids.

    July 18, 2012 at 10:34 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Harry Deol

    The statue should be erected in the jail where Sandursky is or put jail fences around.

    July 18, 2012 at 10:57 pm | Report abuse |
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