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. Johnny Testicles

    We are... PENN STATE! I totally agree with Bartholomew Butt.

    July 19, 2012 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Arthur Anus

    Taint

    July 19, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Lickmy Scrotum

    Noone has said anything here more relevant than Arthur Anus.

    July 19, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Cheryl

    They should probably find a donor willing to pony up enough for them the change the name of their library as well.

    July 19, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
  5. 9isme

    The statue needs to come down or moved to a empty hall somewhere.

    July 19, 2012 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Ronnie

    PSU = pedophile state university

    July 19, 2012 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
  7. barry

    Tear it down the same way they tore down Saddam Hussein's statue!

    July 19, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
  8. mmp

    The last thing the university needs is another lightening rod for controversy. Once football season starts (if football season starts), it's roughly 100,000 people drinking all day and probably split down the middle whether it should stay or go. I say take it down, move it into the football museum (the guy still coached for 50+ years at PSU) and be done with it.

    July 19, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
  9. GraceAlone

    A winning NCAA football record says nothing about a man personally...Paterno's moves to coverup these horrible events prove him to be a worm and a coward as a human being...should the people of PA desire to memorialize this man...bottom line...it is their choice

    July 19, 2012 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
  10. henry

    Penn State shoudl get the death penalty just like SMU. SMU at least didn't involve boys.

    July 19, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Grendel

      Uh yeah it did just in a different way!

      July 19, 2012 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • NWeiner

      Sandusky's crimes were the most atrocious ever committed by anyone affiliated with sports – of any level – pee wee through professional, but I don't think the NCAA needs to act SMU-style. Sandusky molested the boys because he needed to satisfy his pedophilia – not to gain his team an advantage like a booster. Both the judge and Penn State have cleansed society of those responsible, so there is no need to punish the entire organization, the entire school for years more (SMU took some two decades to fully recover from its death sentence).

      July 19, 2012 at 6:34 pm | Report abuse |
  11. GraceAlone

    If the statue stays...I lobby for equal representation for the victims.....erect...(play on words !)...a statue next to Joe's depicting the shower scene as it was witnessed...

    July 19, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Laura

      Oh, yeah, that's a great idea!

      July 19, 2012 at 6:58 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Heather

    I say move the statue to some storage closet out of the way... Then we'll know it's there, but we'll just pretend we don't know anything about it.

    July 19, 2012 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
  13. JC

    Last time I checked, the Bible was about love and acceptance, not about exclusion and hatred. People like you make me sick. Proclaiming your adherence to god's word one minute while promoting hatred of an entire class of people the next.

    July 19, 2012 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • ripster65

      The Bible? Really? There ya go, let's bring religion in here. If things aren't stirred up enough, that'll sure do it! Not every one reads or even cares about the Bible (I'm one). Take it somewhere else. Are you saying people should somehow love and accept Sandusky and those who covered up for him? Paterno had nothing to do with any of this? He didn't have a clue? Really...?

      July 19, 2012 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse |
  14. JoeMustGo

    I went to an MBA open house at a regional PSU campus a few years ago. The entire pitch session was all about Paterno. It was all "By Joe!" this and "By Joe!" that. The whole thing was kind of creepy to be honest. I never did go there and now I'm glad I don't have to fight this battle with other alumns.

    What was that in the Bible about not worshipping any graven images?

    July 19, 2012 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
  15. YOUDECIDE

    In the last decade, Penn State's operating budget just about doubled. The tuition went up considerably making the university most expensive public university in the US. Buildings popped up all over the campus, and per square foot cost was among the highest in the nation. Getting outside money was always important to achieve academic tenure for professors in many colleges, but in some colleges, money became the main index to measure academic quality. The university hired many Deans and Associate Deans from the old boy’s network in a casual way without any national search mainly for fundraising. Many of these administrators have not written a dozen peer reviewed papers in recent years and some in their entire carrier. Many of these people are not respected for their scholastic contributions but work as dignified fundraisers.

    In the early stage of the scandal, Spanier issued a strong statement of support for now indicted Curley and Schultz. Now, Penn State continues to pay Curley and Spanier's salary and legal costs for both Schultz and Curley. The old boy’s network and the need for money to service Spanier’s excesses that drove the Penn State scandal remains fully in place. The university is now run by all the people Spanier hired during his tenure. And, Joe Paterno’s statue on campus keeps smiling.

    July 19, 2012 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
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