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. asdf

    oh my now that they're discussing it, they HAVE TO tear it down. A "decision" to keep the statue would be no better than a decision to build one and put it there knowing what we know now.

    July 18, 2012 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
  2. citizenUSA

    The man was given a statue to celebrate his achievements in football. Why should Sandusky's acts take that away from Paterno? One would think that the same care, devotion, compassion, dedication, inspiration, guardianship, etc that Paterno gave to his players should be how he is with everyone. How could any decent person with knowledge of children, even just possibly, being abused, do little of nothing? All Paterno cared about was football, which is fine, but not at the cost of innocent children. He doesn't deserve the immortalization. What do you say, he was a great football coach but a crummy human being?

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

      how about because he was willing to let a child molester run free in order to win more football games? It might not be explicitly cheating, but it certainly violates the "spirit" of the game.

      July 18, 2012 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Myto Senseworth

    Have it moved to the nearest jail to be a reminder to criminals.

    July 18, 2012 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
  4. sarge

    Keep it as a symbol of deep and abiding shame...

    July 18, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
  5. PD

    Ok, statue talk aside for one second (although the board should have voted immediately to have it RELOCATED: win-win). But Nittanyville? NITTANYVILLE? Really? Not The Lions' Den? Jesus, you PSU'ers are failing at absolutely every single turn, you are begging for the Death Penalty if for no other reason than your decision-making from the top down. "Shut'er down."

    July 18, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Swen

    I have the perfect solution to the statue problem......JUST TURN IT AROUND so ...........HE LOOKS THE OTHER WAY.....

    BA DUM BUM.......

    July 18, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
  7. SunnyPSU26

    The decision to take down the statue should be between Penn State alumni, current students, and staff. Not by people on the CNN boards, why do you care about the statue?

    July 18, 2012 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Areacode612

    Let me get this straight, The Nittney Lion's play football at Beaver Stadium in Happy Valley? WTH?

    July 18, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
  9. samsjmail

    Maybe they can sell it to help pay all the lawsuits that are coming.

    July 18, 2012 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
  10. asdf

    They should replace the statue with a bronzed "show us where he touched you" doll.

    July 18, 2012 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Joe

    NO! He was a great coach, but had knowledge of what was happening and chose reputation of school over reporting the abuse of children. The situation is much bigger then he was..

    July 18, 2012 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Lou Cypher

    Even in death, he has set a new record.

    Shortest Time Honored with a Bronze Statue: it will be another dominating win for Paterno

    July 18, 2012 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
  13. samsjmail

    Destroy the statue. NCAA need to give them the death penalty.

    I look forward to seeing them play football again someday in some minor non-BCS conference.

    July 18, 2012 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Raggo

    It represents all the good he did for Penn state- leave it up. Also make a statue of Hitler to commemorate how he took Germany out of an economic depression, ya know the good stuff he did.

    July 18, 2012 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chip

      Don't agree with your comparison to Hitler, the evil he did clearly overshadowed any good. Better example might be, say, monuments to Washington and Jefferson who owned hundreds of slaves. Clear examples of how the good one does CAN overshadow the bad.

      July 18, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
  15. BrianR

    Heroes, whatever high ideas we may have of them, are mortal and not divine. We are all as God made us, and many of us much worse. (Tom Jones 1963)
    Put him in Sandusky's cell

    July 18, 2012 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
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