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. Stevie

    Should Catholic churches be taken down because some priests molested children? Should the Vatican be taken down since the higher ups turn a blind eye to the molestation in so many cases?

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

      @stevie...Catholic church, no...higher ups that covered it up, absolutely...this article isnt asking whether PSU should be shut down, just if a statue of a man should be replaced – that said, i like Journey's idea.

      July 18, 2012 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • tbs

      Duh! Yes!

      July 18, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jim


      July 18, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Boo

      Yes they should, and yes it should. That's an easy one.

      July 18, 2012 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bill


      July 18, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      If a priest that molested children had a statue erected in his honor, or any other symbol specifically associated with him, then that should be removed. You make a weak attempt at associating a statue that is recognizing an individual with the entire organization he represented. It is a feeble attempt to justify keeping a memory of a man that turned a blind eye to child molestation.

      July 19, 2012 at 8:49 am | Report abuse |
  2. ELH

    Every vestige of Joe Paterno (down to the lint he left in his locker) should be expunged from Penn State property and taken to the nearest landfill, especially his statue.

    July 18, 2012 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
  3. banasy©

    Oh, for goodness sake...has anyone thought to ask the VICTIMS what they thought should be done with the statue?
    Their opinion means more than anyone's...

    July 18, 2012 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Charles

    He was more concerned with football than protecting children. Paterno knew exactly what was going on and said nothing.

    July 18, 2012 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • alecia

      I agree with you Charles. He had the power to do something and instead he did NOTHING. Take it down!!!

      July 18, 2012 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jalen

    They will never be able to move past this as long as that statue stays up. Nothing Paterno accomplished over his long career is ever going to be remembered, except this scandal, and the statue will be a reminder of that always.

    July 18, 2012 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
  6. PSU Alum

    The statue needs to go. PSU needs to remove all references to this failure to move on in a positve direction. Maybe replace it with a nittany lion with a blue collar as a reference to the victims so we never forget.

    July 18, 2012 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
  7. FastEddie

    Leave the statue but place a plaque prominently next to it detailing Sandusky's crimes and Paterno's complicity.

    July 18, 2012 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Free Soda

    Who cares. He's dead and statues are rediculous.

    July 18, 2012 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Molly

    No one is shutting down an organization, just an image of a man who supported a pedophile.

    July 18, 2012 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Joseph Smity

    It was wrong for him to hide it but the accomplishment and history remains the same for him. If we tore down statues of people that made mistakes and did not directly commit crimes, we would not to take all statues down of everyone.

    July 18, 2012 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
  11. HenkV

    Anyone who condones child abuse has no business being honored with a statue, unless that statue is hanging from a nicely tied rope. In that case it can be a warning to any abuser or enabler of abuse.

    July 18, 2012 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Bill Jarrell

    Tear down the library he paid for and the other items he donated to the university as well. If your going to remove everything Joe, then remove everything Joe!

    July 18, 2012 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
  13. DaveinPA

    TEAR IT DOWN !!!

    July 18, 2012 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Bean

    Seems like a no-brainer to take it down. This is the problem when one person gets too much control at a university. My favorite Paterno moment was when he refused to be fired. I'd say you have too much power when you can refuse being fired. Joes problem, he cared more about the university itself than the people in the community or attending it.

    July 18, 2012 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
  15. NDO

    Remove the statue and put it with Sandusky in his jail cell.

    July 18, 2012 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Guest

      So you're all for taking down Washington's and Jefferson's Memorials. Becuase you know they had slaves and weren't perfect either.

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