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. David

    Paterno is innocent and as much a Sandusky victim as anyone else.

    July 18, 2012 at 11:02 pm | Report abuse |
  2. oh my

    Why cancle the season. What did the players who were probally not even 10 yet when this happen do? People get so worked up they start lashing out at anything and anyone no matter what actually happened. Also it makes me laugh how we Americans get so worked up about somethings, but just don't care about others. What about the children being killed in Syira toight? The ones starving to death in Africa? The ones who are forced to be fight or die for madmen?

    July 18, 2012 at 11:05 pm | Report abuse |
  3. mr pibb

    Hey Banasy,

    I want to apologize. My comments may have crossed the line. The situation at Penn St strikes a personal one with me as early in my career, I worked with abused kids and my comments came from a dark emotional place within me. I now have 5 kids of my own and the thought of this type of thing happening to them sends me over the edge. I know the
    people of Penn St are like the rest of us, mostly fine moral individuals. I really don't care about the statue as I know things will work themselves out. I really just hope the new leaders have the courage to make the right choices to help all victims of abuse and move forward.I want the Penn St family to be proud when they chant We Are Penn St and not be ashamed.

    July 18, 2012 at 11:11 pm | Report abuse |
  4. John robbit

    @David, he wasn't a victim of Sandusky, he was Sandusky's enabler. You have a very skewed world view.

    July 19, 2012 at 12:05 am | Report abuse |
  5. disgusted

    For all you PSU supporters that keep using the argument "if you're going to tear down the statue, give back the money he donated for the library" like that makes him such a great person, where do you think he got all that money?? He got it from Penn State. He wouldn't have had all those millions if everyone hadn't worshipped him like he was a god. Why should they have to give it back? Blood money, if you ask me.

    July 19, 2012 at 12:09 am | Report abuse |
  6. Reality

    IT SHOULD STAY!!! Why? So that people NEVER forget what this monster, yes monster, allowed another monster, a wretched, evil and pathetic excuse of human life to do to children.
    We here in the U.S., have a culture of "hiding" and "brushing" things underneath the rug, a culture where our memory of history is quickly forgotten and dismissed, call it Social Amnesia, or whatever, but the statute should STAY, so that every time people at that school see it, it reminds them of why this should never happen again!

    July 19, 2012 at 1:17 am | Report abuse |
  7. realist

    You people amaze me. You villianize paterno over little true evidence other than emails saying after a conversations, no one knows about that conversation, no one knows what he was told exactly went on, no one knows what he said, he could have said to curley, hey do what you think is best, it ma have just been curley who was having second thoughts. there are only 2 people who know for sure and one is dead. Then you have no problem idolizing the likes of michael jackson. Also there was less backlash on people like OJ simpson and ray lewis. Give me a break.

    July 19, 2012 at 7:48 am | Report abuse |
    • TexanBogota

      Read the report. He knew way back in 1998. He never express any concern for the victims. Read Sportsnews and you will hear some really vitriolic comments about Paterno.

      July 19, 2012 at 8:18 am | Report abuse |
  8. Jeff

    When the Sandusky accusations first broke, my very first thought was that I hope this incident wouldn't tarnish the images of such a storied program and such an accomplished coach. Public opinions tend to be cemented before the investigation even really begins. HOWEVER, now that the investigation has led to involvement of and a cover up by other PSU staff and administrators, including Paterno, the statue needs to come down. Some would even suggest that the entire football program needs to be suspended. I personally think that would be unfair to those who had absolutely no involvement in this scandal. It would also be a hit to the local economy who's small businesses probably break even thanks to PSU football home games.

    July 19, 2012 at 8:37 am | Report abuse |
    • StatusStillUp

      So, because there is money involved or it may hurt a student or few.... we should look the other way.

      You and people like you are the problem. Maybe you were one of the kids and liked it.

      Shut the entire program down and possibly the school itself. Another catholic church as far as I'm concerned.

      July 19, 2012 at 9:41 am | Report abuse |
    • drake mallard

      Tear Joe Pa's Statue Down Like Saddam Hussein statue

      July 19, 2012 at 9:46 am | Report abuse |
    • ColB

      To cancel the football program would deny many students the opportunity to play or enjoy the football games. The students and players had nothing to do with the coverup. The people responsible should all be fired and their pensions taken lost. The Paterno statue needs to be removed from campus immediately. Statue are erected to immortalize and remember individuals for the good they have done for society. Joe Pa gave that opportunity up when he deliberately aided in the coverup. If anything, put up statues of the children that were abused as a remembrance of this autrocity.

      "Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely." The football program became too powerful and corrupted the university.

      July 19, 2012 at 10:13 am | Report abuse |
    • Bart Butt

      I think Joepa's farts smelled horrible. That is the real crime here.

      July 19, 2012 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bart Butt

      I believe Sandusky was bad.

      July 19, 2012 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
  9. scorekeeper23

    Leave the statue up, but shrouded with a sheet for exactly the amount of time this scandal was covered up, and a simple sign displayed in front stating the reason by the Penn State Trustees. That would serve as bigger symbol than anything I've read thus far.

    July 19, 2012 at 8:42 am | Report abuse |
    • BSabre

      I like this idea, but would modify it slightly – put a black armband on his right arm, to signify shame and regret, and leave it on for 12 years as symbolic penance for failing to do his duty as a coach, as a citizen, as a father, and dare I say it, as a MAN.

      July 19, 2012 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
  10. jenny

    what a disgusting headline to wake up to...PS students protecting the statue....OMG...now, they ARE making the entire university, just not the football program look bad....by daily defending of paterno it truly comes to light that these students have NO MORALS, this school MUST face sanctions.....it is just disgusting....

    July 19, 2012 at 9:29 am | Report abuse |
    • William Bailey

      As they said, they are there to keep it from being tampered with till PSU makes makes a decision on it's disposition....

      July 19, 2012 at 11:11 am | Report abuse |
  11. Shawn

    The statue should stay...!!!! Joe Paterno was a good man who did great things for Penn State. I read the Freeh report and I must say I did not read anything that was a smoking gun to JoePa's guilt. His name was only referenced in emails, there was no content of what was spoken. In a court of law even a first year lawyer would object to this as "hear say" or "conjecture" which would be sustained. God Bless Joe Paterno and PENN STATE.....WE ARE PENN STATE!!!!!!

    July 19, 2012 at 9:38 am | Report abuse |
    • ColB

      Classic case of "drinking the kool-aid." How can you possible defend what Paterno did? If one of those kids was your kid, would you continue to bow down to Joe Pa? I seriously doubt it.

      July 19, 2012 at 10:15 am | Report abuse |
  12. dywlf

    NO! Paterno was a great football coach but a failure as a human being.

    July 19, 2012 at 10:19 am | Report abuse |
  13. moby49

    They should leave it up but add a large plague that reads "It only takes one person to look the other way to allow horrible crimes to occur." And the figures in the background should be turned 180 so they are walking away not following.

    July 19, 2012 at 10:21 am | Report abuse |
    • Kate

      That is a very good idea, actually. Really good. Instead of just causing riots by taking it down, use it as a chance to teach an important message. Afterall, that's what his new legacy is not.

      July 19, 2012 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
  14. robert

    Penn Sate again is showing arrogance and lack of concern of victims who suffered on their primacy, by keeping the statue there. Its another slap in the face to the victims.

    July 19, 2012 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
  15. robert

    Penn State says they are going to change and care about child victims, yet they still are arrogant and showing lack of concern about the victims by keep the statue on campus, its another slap in the face for the victims who suffer being victimized on their primacy

    July 19, 2012 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
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