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. Dave

    actually churches have been closed as a result of the scandals to pay for lawsuits, etc. The difference between the popes and Patero is that Paterno had direct knowledge at the time of what was going on.

    And either way, since when to two wrongs make a right?

    July 18, 2012 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Truthdetector

      YOU KNOW the popes had no direct knowledge at the time it was going on?
      No you don't know that. SOMEONE in the higher ups of catholicsm knew, that's for danged sure!

      July 18, 2012 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scott Pilgrim

      You're saying the CEO knows what an intern is doing at all times. You just sound like a conspiracy theorist at this point.

      July 18, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • local

      Are you stupud or just plain dumb. Joe was never a eye witness to any abuse. You may have to talk to that coward Mcqueary as the eyewitness. Dave u surly are a idiot.

      July 19, 2012 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • rob

      He never said Paterno was an eye witness. He said he had direct knowledge of it. The emails JoPa sent prove that. Read what he posted dummy

      July 19, 2012 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Laura

      I don't understand how you call McQueary a coward for ratting out Sandusky? Can you please explain that? And when you are calling someone else an "idiot" its always a good idea to check your post for correct spelling and to make sure your own ideas are not idiotic.

      July 19, 2012 at 7:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • area man

      local...Dave did not write that Paterno was an eyewitness. Dave stated Paterno had direct knowledge of the crimes.

      Btw, learn to spell, it's surely...not surly

      Now who is the idiot => LOCAL

      July 20, 2012 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Eddie O.

      Joe couldn't see through those coke bottle glasses anyway.

      July 20, 2012 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Snipdog88

    As a tribute to 'Covert' pedophilia, No, the statue should go in the basement. Don't celebrate ignorant bliss, clouded by a football. Joe, you turned a blind eye. Your end was cruel, but was it charma for what you allowed to happen? Your watch; your error; the grand smirch is on your name and what you stood for.

    July 18, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Alex

    It is only justice to give an opportunity for the accused to defend. Now that Paterno is dead, he cannot do that. So the status quo should continue. Moreover, Freeh report is not a court verdict and questionable. Libel cases can come up.

    July 18, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      So after Hitler committed suicide, we should have just left all the statues and monuments to him up since he was not there to defend himself? You silly wabbit.

      July 18, 2012 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Josh

    "... You are a part of this college you should be defending him," said David Eberly.

    That is what disturbs me the most. That students and alumni feel they have a duty to defend the raping of boys. Because Football at Penn State is more important than a n y t h i n g.

    July 18, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • scmaize

      Not ONE person is defending the raping of boys. NOT ONE. Your comment is false and disgusting. Not as disgusting as what Sandusky did, of course, but a lie, nonetheless.

      July 18, 2012 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brittany

      Josh, that is what disturbed me most, as well. Comments such David Eberly's make me sick and shows that the Freeh report was pretty spot on, regarding the university and its people as a whole.

      July 18, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Smitty

    I say that if PSU takes the statue down, then they should be required to give back the millions that the Paterno family has dontated to non-football facilities at PSU – particularly the Library.

    July 18, 2012 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • scmaize

      Agreed! People seem to have forgotten that Jerry Sandusky was the child molester, not Joe Paterno. Paterno apparently did not believe the reports against Sandusky, though he passed them along to the AD and VP in charge of the State College police force. If he didn't believe them, there was no need to take action. He was wrong, of course, and obviously realized that at the end of his life, and regretted it deeply. Many of us have trusted our families and friends, even with evidence to the contrary. Believing in someone's innocence, even incorrectly, does not make us criminals ourselves. It just makes us wrong.

      July 18, 2012 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Steve

    Bowden says the statue should be removed for the sake of the Paterno family. Are you kidding me? It should be removed for the sake of the victims of Sandusky!

    July 18, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
  7. lance corporal

    OK the statue of paterno can stay but only if a statue of sandusky raping him from behind is added

    July 18, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
  8. JESS

    Leave it up. It represents his football victories on the field, not the sick people at Penn State off the field.
    It represents his coaching which everyone can agree he was a great coach.
    It represents him as a great coach not him as a man.

    July 18, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Nancy Kaminski

    These stupid people that want JoePa's statue taken down are disgusting. I can't think of anything to describer their way of thinking other than that. Joe Paterno loved Penn State and the students there. I'm glad he's not alive to know this nonsense is happening.

    July 18, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
  10. mmmc22

    Either the statue needs to come down or Penn State needs to plan to have guards stationed to protect it from vandals 24/7. I'm predicting that it's coming down regardless of the University's decision.

    July 18, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
  11. lance corporal

    how about we build 3 statues of paterno.......
    one covering his eyes
    one covering his ears
    one covering his mouth

    July 18, 2012 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Josh

      And one with his finger sticking up a young boy's butt.

      July 18, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • scmaize

      Josh, below your comment, Lance Corporal. Josh, you're disgusting. Joe Paterno was not the child rapist. Maybe you can't read or think. Keep your offensive lies to yourself.

      July 18, 2012 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Journey

    Melt the statue down and refashion it with the hand down. Build one of the greatest social work and family advocacy departments in the world at PSU (with Paterno's estate) and place the statue of Paterno going up the stairs to understand this epidemic, the hand on the railing and a somber look on his face. Not leading the students...but following them.

    That would be a fitting memorial.

    July 18, 2012 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nancy Kaminski

      you are one sick puppy.

      July 18, 2012 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
  13. lance corporal

    keep the statue of paterno but change the pedestal so he is standing on the backs of the abused kids that where sacrificed for his image

    July 18, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
  14. AreYouSerious?

    Who cares about the statue? What Penn State fans the country over should be worried about is whether or not the NCAA will do away with Peachy Paterno? PEACHY PATERNO!

    July 18, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Safe in Texas

    You betcha tear down that eye sore. The school is a lot to recover from once (if) this stain on humanity and children can every be recovered from. Reminders like larger than life bronze statues of a man that perpetrated or was complacent to, the sorrowful events, need to go!

    July 18, 2012 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • claybigsby

      " Reminders like larger than life bronze statues of a man that perpetrated or was complacent to, the sorrowful events, need to go!"

      Why do you want to hide this incident?People need to be reminded about the atrocities that went on at PSU. We dont need to cover it up and forget about it.

      July 18, 2012 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      Taking down the statue is not hiding anything, there are many things that could replace the statue that would serve as a reminder and/or honor the victims. Leaving the statue does nothing for the healing process and is nothing more than a slap in the face to everyone hurt in this whole tragic affair.

      July 18, 2012 at 10:45 pm | Report abuse |
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