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. Edumacated Southerner

    WOW; you people really should talk to Dr.Phil!!!

    July 19, 2012 at 6:25 pm | Report abuse |
  2. ibetigetcensored

    Tear it down the way we tore down SADAMS statue. Then replace it with a statue of 0bama. (To be tore down later.)

    July 19, 2012 at 6:42 pm | Report abuse |
  3. ibetigetcensored

    Knock it down and hit it with old shoes like the IRAQI people did to SADAM.
    Then yourin8 and p00p on it

    July 19, 2012 at 6:46 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Laura

    Aren't so many of these posts so reactionary?? (not just on this story, but on any little thing, including reviews of the new Batman movie). What's wrong with us that we can't use logic to sort out issues, but instead stop at purely emotional responses to every little thing?

    July 19, 2012 at 7:11 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Adam

    Lions kill 250 people per year. They should take down the Lion statue.

    July 19, 2012 at 7:38 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jim

    They should leave it but make a change to his raised hand and make it a fist punching Jerry Sandusky in the face. The man is dead and now can't defend himself about these accusations. Let him rest in peace. Just sayin.

    July 19, 2012 at 8:25 pm | Report abuse |
  7. AmerCou1966

    So, the question is: Does a state run university take down, or leave up, a statute of a person that enabled a child molester????? Reads like a no brainier to me.

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

    Of course the statue should stay. Just turn it a bit, so that Joe is "looking the other way"...

    July 19, 2012 at 9:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • SPD

      That's good, that's really good.

      July 20, 2012 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • LMFAO!

      This is awesome! lol

      July 20, 2012 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Notch

    I hear there is a chance to have it moved down to the library as a reminder to keep quite

    July 19, 2012 at 10:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • FirstTimePostingHere

      I didn't think I could laugh on such an abysmally grey day...

      July 20, 2012 at 10:39 am | Report abuse |
  10. DaMan

    Scrap it.

    July 20, 2012 at 1:35 am | Report abuse |
  11. ActuallyFromPSU

    The man is staple in the school and the footbal program all in all, an awesome 48 years at the helm. Regardless of what happened, the man is a legacy and should remain that way. All of your bulls**t, convaluted thoughts on the situation need to stop. He was and always will be the backbone of the football program and the school. He is still an icon. Leave it like that. Leave the statue. And pull your heads out of your asses.

    July 20, 2012 at 7:47 am | Report abuse |
    • Peter Traks

      Either your sphincter is still intact and you are too self absorbed to feel another's pain or you are a pedophile.

      July 20, 2012 at 9:20 am | Report abuse |
    • jim

      JoePa was a horses ass and I am loving this.

      July 20, 2012 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Erin

    I say if they keep the statue they at least remove "humanitarian" from the list of words behind the statue.

    July 20, 2012 at 8:59 am | Report abuse |
  13. Real

    It is so nice to know there are so many intelligent rational people out there...sarcasm...it's nice to know some of you people can say awful things in a joking manner when horrible things happened. Again forgetting the true seriousness of it all. Generalizations all it is.

    July 20, 2012 at 9:42 am | Report abuse |
  14. Brian F.

    To take down the statue is absurd. The guy didn't come out and speak up against Sandusky's actions, but he sure as hell didn't partake in them! Joe Pa is NOT a pedophile. He didn't speak up because he knew of the consequences that would come to the team from the NCAA (which they did) and he cared about those kids more than anything. He just wanted them to play. To strip the poor man of the honor and legacy he left behind as an incredible coach would be to kick him while he's on the ground. He's already received so much scrutiny for this, lost his job, and died a sad man. At least leave something to remember him by. Nothing will ever change the fact that he's a great coach.

    July 20, 2012 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
    • LMFAO!

      Wow, you can't be serious...He is just as guilty as Sandusky as he did absolutely NOTHING to stop the abuse. He'd rather sweep everything under the rug to avoid bringing scandal to PSU...sorry excuse for a man, regardless of his legacy as a coach.

      July 20, 2012 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Xander Crews

      Paterno looking the other way may have allowed his team to continue playing football, but it also allowed Sandusky to keep abusing children. Paterno was part of a cover up by not cooperating and his actions, or lack there of, just allowed more abuse to happen for years. Paterno is no humanitarian. He could have prevented many kids from being abused by simply telling people what he knew...but he looked the other way and did nothing. The statue has to come down and Penn State needs to distance themselves from his name. He is not the man that everyone thought he was. It is ignorant and foolish to defend him and state that his statue should remain. Take it down...distance yourself...and move on the best you can.

      July 20, 2012 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Kevin

    Some would argue that the deepest recesses of hell are reserved for the neutral. Tear it down and start over.

    July 20, 2012 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |
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