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. robert

    Paterno's last concerns was It's not a football problem, too bad he failed again to regret what happen to the child victims involved. I don't think God cares much about his football legacy

    July 19, 2012 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
  2. ASmith

    For those saying it should stay.. your sick and need to be locked up. WHo cares what he did for the school. Its sad that people would put sports over such as sick and horrible action. Everything honoring him should be removed. It is VERY bad media for the school.

    July 19, 2012 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
  3. Regur44

    Paterno's metallic likeness should be taken to the nearest metal recycling yard ASAP. With the removal of that object, the subject of the future of the Penn State football program can be discussed.

    July 19, 2012 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
  4. wake up

    Out of respect for the victims this statue needs to be removed. If it was a statue of an athlete who took steroids we would all tear it down in an instant without thinking twice. In the case of child abuse there should be zero tolerance, plain and simple. While I am not a Penn state fan and it really makes no difference to me whether the football program gets hit or not, keep in mind that everyone who had a hand in covering this thing up isn't there any more. I feel like criminal and civil action would be the better way to go and these people should personally be punished as much as humanly possible. It's disgraceful that Joe Pa's last letter discusses and overly concerns itself with penn state football and how this incident isn't part of the football program. His letter should have concerned itself for the victims and their lives that were ruined. He was defending his legacy and that program to the very end when he should have been defending those children.

    July 19, 2012 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
  5. Fast Fred

    I voted yes to keep the statue the coach. But put a blind fold on him and give him feet of clay.

    July 19, 2012 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Mk82LALD

    The statue of Paterno should be replaced with a life-size statue of a small boy weeping, head bowed with face in hands, and a plaque that reads "All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing".

    The statue needs to be life-sized so viewers can realize how small these victims were. The face needs to be hid to represent the anonymity and nothingness of the victims to the powerful people in charge at PSU. And finally, for those who feel Paterno was "a good man", Edmund Burke's quote sums up best what happens when "good men" do nothing.

    July 19, 2012 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Molly

    Why don't you people forgive? That is what needs to be done. Quit harping on a dead man and let him rest in peace. It was Joe that did the actual demoral thing! I think its time that people put their best foot forward and go on living!

    July 19, 2012 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Kate

    I like the idea to keep it up, but turn it around and add a plaque that said, don't turn your back.

    July 19, 2012 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • bob

      Tear Joe Pa's Statue Down Like Saddam Hussein statue. Give it to the victims and let them drag it through the streets just like Saddam until there is nothing left of it.

      July 19, 2012 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bart Butt

      Jopa's farts smelled absolutely horrible. That is the real crime here.

      July 19, 2012 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • local

      and where did Bart face have his nose stuck.....u idiot.

      July 19, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
  9. nee

    Take it down because the school image meant more to him than human lives.The statue is now tainted and don't represent a greaT MAN!

    July 19, 2012 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • local

      Nee you have no way of knowing what Joe knew. SO STFU.

      July 19, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Laura

      local: What is wrong with you?

      July 19, 2012 at 7:13 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Linda

    Yes the statue should stay at Penn State. Was Paterno a good coach? Yes. Did he devote his life to Penn State? Yes. Was he a good example for the students? No, not really but since when has that been an important reason for having a statue put up? There are statues all over our country of men who were arrogant, womanizers, and less-than-wonderful human beings, i.e., Franklin Roosevelt, Charlie Wilson, Lyndon Johnson, John Kennedy, well–really any President and Congressman. Paterno created a winning football team and that's all that mattered to the President and Board of Directors at Penn State and to the alumni and fans.

    July 19, 2012 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Susan

      Paterno allowed a pedophile to continue abusing boys. He aided and abetted a pedophile by his actions. How the hell can you even begin to justify that?

      July 19, 2012 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      "Paterno created a winning football team and that's all that mattered to the President and Board of Directors at Penn State and to the alumni and fans." And that's the saddest thing of all. Maybe we need to rethink our reasons of venerating people to the point where we built statues of them?

      July 19, 2012 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • local

      Susan you have no clue what Joe knew or did not know . So STFU.

      July 19, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jaredw

      "Yes the statue should stay at Penn State. Was Paterno a good coach? Yes. Did he devote his life to Penn State? Yes. Was he a good example for the students? No, not really but since when has that been an important reason for having a statue put up?" - He was an okay coach. He won several national championships and had several undefeated seasons, but his ability to coach wasn’t as great as his ability to recruit and run a program in general. Stanford and PSU are the only two universities without major NCAA violations in all of Division 1 in their history. He did devote his life to Penn State. He devoted his time to students and athletes – he fought the recently heralded Vicky Triponey to help the students keep student government and protect their rights from being trampled. He devoted literally millions of his own dollars – including building an amazing campus library, raised many millions more in fundraising, and took significantly less pay than head coaches at almost any other major university, especially with his credentials. Those reasons and more were why he had a statue put up, not simply because he was a good football coach. Should the statue stand? Absolutely not. Despite all the good he did, he failed when it mattered most and when the lives of children were at stake. Regardless of what exactly he knew or when, self-admittedly he should’ve done more and as a result his legacy at Penn State should not continue to be celebrated as it once was.

      July 19, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Kate

    I just saw that in large words behind the statue it says "Educator, Coach, Humanitarian". Maybe simply add the line, "enabler", with the tag, "don't turn your back"

    July 19, 2012 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
  12. TexanBogota

    Maybe we should just nuke the entire Liberty State.

    July 19, 2012 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • jenny

      i think its the keystone state

      July 19, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Bart Butt

    I think Sandusky was innocent.

    July 19, 2012 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
  14. TexanBogota

    When is the Nittany Lions first game and against who? I wonder if it will be on T.V. It will be interesting to see what happens if they do play. Bob Costa said that if they do field a team, something is serious wrong with the NCAA. It seems he was the first person to even confront Sandusky.

    July 19, 2012 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Jesus

    Have it "look the other way", just like in real life.

    July 19, 2012 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
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