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. tribecagal

    Leave the statue but hang a bronze plaque around Paterno's neck reading PEDOPHILE ENABLER

    July 18, 2012 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Buckee

      Or modify it to show him fondling a kid.

      July 18, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Missy

      Good one!!!!!!

      July 18, 2012 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • JenniferK8

      @ Bucky: Why would you make such an ignorant statement? Joe Paterno didn't fondle the young boys; Jerry Sandusky did. No one knows exactly what Joe Paterno knew because a) he was never afforded the opportunity to be interviewed, although he requested it; and b) he died in January. We'll never know.

      July 18, 2012 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • sckc

      Oh but Jennifer – he WAS interviewed by the Grand Jury. And then the notes (in his own handwriting) and emails found contradict some of what he testified to. When McQueary told him what he saw, what did Joe say? "Oh No! Terrible! Unbelievable!!" No, what he said was, as he slumped in his chair, "I'm sorry you had to see that." Sounds like Joe was not surprised in the least at what McQueary was saying.

      July 18, 2012 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jerry

    Once the lawsuits begin they'll have to sell the statue for scrap to make the payments.

    July 18, 2012 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
  3. realist

    If they decide to demolish the statue, they should do the same to the Paterno library on campus that wouldn't be there without his donations.

    July 18, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • deeceeuci

      Just rename the library. you dont have to demolish a building just to change a name.

      July 18, 2012 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kitten Mittens

      @deeceeuci – I think you're enabling pedophiles by accepting donations from someone who was a part of the cover-up.

      July 18, 2012 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bethany

      Correct...it would not be there without his donations...

      July 18, 2012 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Susan

      Oh well,he had donations to the library,so of course he should have his name on it. Sometimes I wonder about the mentality of the people on these blogs.

      July 19, 2012 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Sari

    I think it needs to come down, and his name removed from everything. It's not about punishment to me...I feel like Paterno made many mistakes for which (were he still alive) he should be ashamed, but mostly, it's about helping the Penn State community heal and move on. Not everyone in that community is to blame, but they will all share in the disgrace of this. It's important for the school and the country to absolve the innocent bystanders and get on with educating students.

    July 18, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
  5. LouAZ

    Hey, what abot this mythical saying ?
    You shall not make for yourself any carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them.

    July 18, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Marcia

      Excellent! Two thumbs up! The man was not God. He might be forgiven, but we'll let God decide that now.

      July 18, 2012 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
  6. John

    They renamed Paternoville, to move on because he isn't the coach anymore. It would be disrespectful not to give the new coach room to shine. Get the story straight, and don't use it to add flame to your misguided "coverage".

    July 18, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Buckee

    PSU's uniforms should be changed to resemble gigantic phallus's.

    July 18, 2012 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • *#%@&!u

      Then they would be confused with Ohio State and Tressel.

      July 18, 2012 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • jenny

      just by wearing it they are

      July 18, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Laura

    They are just using Paterno as a scape goat. There are other higher ups mentioned and he reported it to them and THEY did nothing. Put those men's faces in the media and talk about what they didnt do to help these young victims. Once again the media and people are not sharing the blame equally among all that are quilty of knowing and not doing anything. Blaming Paterno is Penn States way of buring it and trying to keep their jobs and football team.

    July 18, 2012 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • DB

      The difference, Laura, is that those other guys are being PROSECUTED for their roles in the cover up. Paterno had the good fortune of passing on before he was indicted along with his other cronies. The blame will be equally shared once the others come to trial and are convicted. Their lives and careers will be damaged beyond repair, and rightfully so.

      July 18, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Joshua Ludd

    Well, if Penn State would like to memorialize one of the many men at the top of their university who were more concerned with a rapist than his victims and who helped that rapist keep on raping children for years, then by all means.. keep the statue. Sure, Paterno did some good things. That doesn't change his horrific crime against multiple children.

    July 18, 2012 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Jed

    Instead of tearing the statue down, they should just cover it up.

    July 18, 2012 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cary

      Not a bad idea, how about adding a bronze bag over his head as a little symbolism.

      July 18, 2012 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
  11. 4pease

    Take it down and put it in storage.

    July 18, 2012 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
  12. leave it alone

    statue stays paterno name stays, he told his higher ups they dropped the ball. ever heard of the chain of command. also the assistance coach that caught him slapping a $ $ with the kid should have went to police and he didnt. he is the main failure as is the janitors that seen it. oh I might loose my job boo hoo, they failed not joePa

    July 18, 2012 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Caroline Gardner

      Your post is ridiculous...the janitor who had no power at PS is more at fault than the celebrated head coach of the football them. You need to take a bottle of "reality" pills.

      So if a janitor working at the Captol Bldg. saw a crime he would be mre responsible than if the Governor's chief of staff saw the same thing and didn't report it? NOT!

      July 18, 2012 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Donna


    Good blog on this subject!

    July 18, 2012 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Me

    Where is the proof that Joe Paterno was covering up anything? He certainly wasn't the abuser.

    July 18, 2012 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • sckc

      Maybe you should read the Freeh report and also the Grand Jury testimony. It's right there.

      July 18, 2012 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
  15. john

    It should be moved to a room somewhere and his name expunged from all buildings. He was a coach for 46 years, you can't hide from that but you don't have to so publicly honor it. As to shutting down the season or the team for 1 year or for life: the damage that would do to the community (hotels, restaurants, etc) that rely on the season for income would be terrible. Don't hurt the innocent because one group failed to protect the innocent.

    July 18, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
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