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. sea

    Send the statue to the Haunted Mansion at Disney World.

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

      How can anyone vote yes or no when all they know is what the press told them, which in no longer very accurate.

      July 18, 2012 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Truthdetector

      that is TOO scary

      July 18, 2012 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
  2. jo blo

    They should pull the statue down & kick it like they did Saddam Hussein's. Paterno's statue should be Saddamized.

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

      LOL good one! Tear it down!

      July 18, 2012 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • forreall

      amen!!!

      July 18, 2012 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Jimmy

    If they leave it up, I demand a statue of Sandusky right next to it.

    July 18, 2012 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Chip

    The irony of this is that every single person who is calling for the Paterno statue to be removed probably has, right now, in their own pocket, a monument to a man who owned hundreds of slaves. How on earth can you callo for the Paterno statue to be removed without simultaneously calling for these slave owners to be removed from our money. Hypocrites, every single one of you. You should be ashamed of yourselves.

    July 18, 2012 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • sea

      Way to bring race into this.....bravo....

      July 18, 2012 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • jenny

      we wern't aware that in the 70, 80's and 90's molesting little boys was a way of life......

      July 18, 2012 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Me

      Slavery was legal (not that it was right). M@lesting kids never was legal. Unless you worship Allah of course.

      July 18, 2012 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • fredp23

      dumb

      July 18, 2012 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Poe Jaterno

      Pictures of slave owners on our money? That's all you got? What a maroon!

      July 18, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Truthdetector

      yah, and I'll bet everyone calling for this has also told a lie at least one time in their life. hypocrites!!!

      you're nuts!

      July 18, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Common Good

      So , in other words , you agree that the statue should be removed...

      July 20, 2012 at 10:54 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Portland tony

    Statues are relecs of the past. To even suggest someone should be honored by his or her likeness be cast in bronze or chiseled in stone is an insult and an anachronism. As for the Paterno likeness, I think it should be removed and stored and its importance evaluated when cooler heads prevail.

    July 18, 2012 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • rmcdonald23

      Absolutely a great idea!! Although it certainly looks bad for Paterno, we will not know anything with certainty untill all the dust settles!

      July 18, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • JenniferK8

      Precisely!

      July 18, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Emily

    If they tear down the statue b/c they don't want people showing it on tv during football games and talking about it, they have to know that the media will just show the empty spot and continue to talk about it? Statue or no statue, it will be brought up at every single game this season, and the Penn State fans will be more than tired of hearing about it.

    July 18, 2012 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Ya1wee2

    Keep it there forever to serve as a reminder of how bad and evil Penn State used to be.

    July 18, 2012 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Terri

    Personally I think all the involved parties should be fired. Use their "retirement funds" as well as Paterno's "new contract" money and set up a fund to pay for counseling of abuse victims. That way those responsible will not benefit but will contribute to the healing of those wounded there as well as others. Any reminders of any of these enablers/abusers needs to be removed from campus in order for the victims and the school to heal.

    July 18, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Lu

    Most statues erected are not meant to be worshiped. They are meant to celebrate an outstanding life with works that are a credit to the human race. Someone to be looked up to – someone literally put on a pedestal. All life is worth celebrating – good works, mistakes and all. Perhaps we should not be so willing to expect that heroes are all good with no mistakes. Perhaps we should have fewer statues of anyone displayed. For Coach Paterno's statue I guess the question is how does the university want to be represented – what attributes do they want to put out there to the students and admirable? Maybe the students should decide.

    July 18, 2012 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
  10. jenny

    in all likely hood, if he would have lived long enough to be convicted along with the others (and they will be convicted) would there even be a debate about the stupid staute or his name remaining on buildings? don't think so....and why hasn't his disgusting son been fired from the football program? why can;t tom corbett answer and real questions? to many things still to come out on this story....they need to start completely clean, including a new board

    July 18, 2012 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scuromondo

      Paterno's son was almost immediately replaced when Bill O'Brien took over the head coaching job. He has't been part of the football program for months.

      July 18, 2012 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • NoThanks

      Clearly you're one of the uninformed people who make rash decisions. If you actually READ the Freeh report, you'd understand that one of the big problems was that the BOARD was NEVER told about Sandusky in 1998. So saying "get a new board" is wrong because they would have stopped it long ago.

      Second, JoPa's son had NOTHING to do with this. McCleary was the one who witnessed Sandusky in 2001-2002 in the shower with the boy. So just because he's the son of JoPa he should be fired? So if your father was fired from his job, you should be fired? I don't see your logic.

      July 18, 2012 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Kathy

    Is there a possible compromise? Perhaps enclosing the "shrine" area so that people who want a picture of the placques would be able to enter a small building and do so; those who don't want to see the statue wouldn't have to look at it.

    If we can't compromise, I think it speaks to the literacy of those making the demands. What will be the next demand? Tear down the library? The Stadium? The Lockers? Let's draw a line in the sand and demand a compromise on this issues. We need to be sensitive to those who have been hurt, but also sensitive to those in the University community, the Alumni, students, faculty, and staff, who obviously know far more about the good things going on at PSU than most of these posters. How about the scholarships provided exclusively by staff members? Millions of dollars for research provided by students,,,including the Dance-a-Thon, and others? Get your facts in order about PSU before you judge!

    July 18, 2012 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • jenny

      i think tearing down all of the above would be a good START...and don;t forget about that disgusting mural of him on the wall...... then get his family out of town, and fire his son........all of this is just a start, remove the existing board also...

      July 18, 2012 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
  12. WDinDallas

    It should stay to remind all those liberal pukes in that liberal school that gay and pedophile is almost synonymous.

    July 18, 2012 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Darth Cheney

      "Liberal pukes?" Paterno was a well-connected Republican. "Liberal school?" You didn't go to Penn State, I did. It ain't that liberal. You, sir, R N ID E IT.

      July 18, 2012 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Darth Cheney

      Further, gay and pedophile are only synonymous to, well, ID E ITs.

      July 18, 2012 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • samwaltpete

      You sound like a human pile of garbage.

      July 18, 2012 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
  13. NoThanks

    When OJ Simpson was accused of murder, we didn't demand that USC take down his Heismen Trophy, or his pictures, or his jersey from campus. All of those things remain up today. And he actually DID the crime.

    JoPa didn't molest the children, he made a poor decision and terrible judgement in not turning in Sandusky. But he wasn't the criminal.

    So no demand for OJ Simpson's memorials to be removed, but JoPa (who actually was a good man who made a poor choice) is all of a sudden a terrible person?

    July 18, 2012 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Truth

      OJ, Paterno and Sandusky are ALL miserable excuses for human beings. Some did bad things and others just enabled those bad things to continue because they weren't strong enough to stand up and do the right thing. Stop hurting others or letting it happen. Period.

      July 18, 2012 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Darth Cheney

      Oh, come on – the mob has spoken and the torches won't keep burning forever.

      July 18, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Common Good

      He didn't murder his wife and the guy as a coach of the football team in the showers. The NCAA punishes schools for relatively trivial issues such as recruiting violations. The statue and the football program should be scrapped.

      July 20, 2012 at 10:57 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Squire James

    I think it's way too early to decide whether to tear the statue down, though I also happen to think it's too early to build one in the first place! You know, if some plausible but non-provable rumor came about that Abraham Lincoln making a similar omission, should that be a reason to tear the Lincoln Memorial down?

    Calm down, and let your rational mind make a decision before going "Taliban" on the statue. If, after careful consideration over the course of a year or two, it is decided that his omissions really overshadowed all the good things the statue was built to memorialize, THEN disassemble the statue. Note I still didn't say "tear it down".

    July 18, 2012 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • asdf

      There's really not much left to know. It was proven 100 different ways that Paterno knew and did nothing (excuse me – NEXT TO nothing) to stop it. Emails, eye-witness accounts, etc. all corroborated the story.

      July 18, 2012 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • carolen

      Well said Squire James, well said.

      July 18, 2012 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
  15. NYKnows

    According to the NY Times, Paterno was negotiating a great deal for himself and his family even when the scandal erupted. $5 million per year, a stadium box, use of the university jet, use of the gym... so now we know what Paterno was protecting, not football but his own unbelieveable wealth and priviledges. Funny, he did not pass himself off as a wheeler dealer, 1% type, but that is what he was. The statue honors lies, corruption and greed. It must be melted down and turned into a monument to the children, the little boys, who suffered much harm to protect the greed of the few.

    July 18, 2012 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Portland tony

      Good lord.... The guy was 85. How much greed and corruption can you have with one foot in the proverbial grave?

      July 18, 2012 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
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