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. J-man

    To remove the statue makes it too easy to forget and move on. The statue should remain but have a tribute to the victims added adjacent to the statue, as a reminder to all in the future to take positive action. I don't think JoePa ever realized the level and extent of Sandusky's transgressions, but he didn't try very hard to find out, either. He is neither saint nor evil. He shouldn't be worshipped, but should be remembered.

    July 20, 2012 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
  2. M

    PSU must show its students, its alumni and the world, that it cannot disrepect those childrent who have been violated by honoring someone who was a part of a cover-up. Remove the statue and put it in a place where those who want to view it, can do so in privacy.

    July 20, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
  3. M

    PSU must show its students, its alumni and the world, that it will not disrepect those children who have been violated by honoring someone who was a part of a cover-up. Remove the statue and put it in a place where those who want to view it, can do so in privacy.

    July 20, 2012 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Canada

    People still go to Catholic church on Sunday to listen to pedophiles so Joe can stay. They are among us and we must all get a wong.

    July 20, 2012 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
  5. RetiredVet

    Some well placed C4 will take care of the statue.

    July 20, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Weldon Gebhard

    Yes it is history. But the statue should carry the rest of the history.

    July 20, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Weldon Gebhard

    Liberals are always rewriting history so let us not go there.

    July 20, 2012 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Carol Green

    Please melt down the Paterno statue and re-mold a plaque that lists the phone numbers of child protective services, the police department, university police, university president, all university board members, sheriff's office, public prosecutors, mental health department, and support groups. At the top of the plaque should be a thorough statement from the university portraying deep remorse, admission to the lack of rapid response and prosecution of Sandusky, acknowledgment of guilt in years of secrecy and protection of the silent accomplices, all the names of aware professionals who did not report the crimes in a timely manner, and how to report such crimes. It should acknowledge university culpability and make a pledge to enforce prosecution, educate the public, and vigilantly protect children regarding pedophilia and reporting the crime. It should express the hope that the victims of the crime will heal and state how the university will help them. This should be a permanent memorial to the suffering of the past and present, and a cautionary memorial for centuries well into the future. Included in the statement should be the fact that the bronze used for the plaque was from the rendering of Paterno's statue.
    -Retired California Teacher, 64

    July 20, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Common Good

      Joe Paterno was a narcissistic coward, who put his football "legacy" ahead of the lives of those kids. This guy hung around long after he should have retired in pursuit of records which would immortalize him as the "greatest" .... It had nothing to do with football or "character" it was all about his ego. Yes. surely he just loved the statue and murals which glorified him, it was all part of the legend that was so important for him to leave. The "legend" turned out to be a myth, a lie... nothing more than an illusion.

      It will be a little hard to swallow, ... for those who unthinkably still revere the memory of this lily-livered malingerer,. but it is also clearly in the best interests of the university even the "faithful".... will defend their "hero" .........(wow, really....) to the end.

      Tear down the statue, melt it down and make a memorial to the people whose lives were destroyed under the protection of this sports program and the school it bacame a cancerous growth of.

      July 20, 2012 at 9:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tim M

      Well thought out response... I second you !!

      July 21, 2012 at 6:01 am | Report abuse |
  9. Rettas Vegas

    No, it should be removed, and is really an intelligent question?

    Of course it's offensive to ALL MOLESTED CHILDREN!
    The majority of people do not worship football PRGM.'s, political parties, church, or religions, so YOU who do need to listen up.


    July 20, 2012 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
  10. New Jackson

    The Should just build a boy statue in front. That should help decrease the cost per credit hour.

    July 20, 2012 at 7:27 pm | Report abuse |
  11. PhilG

    yes,the statue should go.

    Paterno let every student at Penn State down when he chose a football program over protecting the children under his care-all of them.

    July 20, 2012 at 9:26 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Pa Pa the dummy

    Statues should be for people that swim against the stream, triumph over adversity, and inspire others to do the same. They are NOT for cowards that embrace jock-groupism and do anything to win games. From what I've read it certainly appears the entire town was aware that Sandusky was a "creep" and a "weirdo". You're telling me Paterno didn't know? Doubtful. It's just that knowing Sandusky's "habits" didn't influence the outcome of his games or his players, so it didn't matter to him. Keep winning, that's all that mattered to Joe Pa.

    At the end of the day, all those who "looked the other way" with Sandusky leave a legacy of abused children. Totally Shameful. The way the town rioted afterwards was the writing on the wall for the "intellectual capacity" of the university. Just teaching Mob behavior, you don't need a degree for that.

    I think they should tear the place down brick by brick personally.

    July 20, 2012 at 9:50 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Howard McTaggart

    I think Joe Paterno was old school and in his mind this sort of stuff was kept quiet, Joe Paterno should be remembered for the great things he did not for the things that modern society judges people for especially when that person was brought up in an environment which kept these things quiet.

    July 21, 2012 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Rebec

    i dont know the reasons why jerry did what he did other than he is a very sick man and needs help. i dont know why joe didnt tell anyone about what was going on. i do know that all the mainstreaming is placing more pain and exploitation on the victims and that the statue problem is an issue that the public should leave to the people closely related to penn state. if you live in a totally different state then why the hell should you have a say. if you dont live in the same county as the school then why should you have a say? it has nothing to do with me, and unless you went there, are going there, or was affected by the incidents then shut the hell up and get on with your life.

    July 21, 2012 at 11:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sammy

      The protection of children is the responsibility of everyone everywhere.

      July 26, 2012 at 9:36 am | Report abuse |
  15. Doug Ward

    Make sure when all are finished persecuting Coach Paterno to send money to the University to assist in reimbursing his family for the money he gave to the school. He was a football coach folks for goodness sakes he was not perfect maybe even messed up at times but to vilify him in a completely negative reference takes away from his contributions , all contributions to the university. Also give credit where credit is due ! Also the business community needs to remember the financial windfall from a weekend at PSU. To take the statue down would be a disgrace! Not now not ever!

    July 22, 2012 at 12:06 am | Report abuse |
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