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. EZE

    Leave the statue for now and let the student body decide via vote in the fall. This man should be judged on the totality of his life, not the smear at the end alone. I've never seen the media and haters so fervent except the destruction of GB.

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

      Joe put alot of his own personal money into the university. Take down the statue. Then give back to the family all the millions they gave to the college in past years. Let the man rest in peace.

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

      Smear?

      You just peeed in your own pool.

      July 18, 2012 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
  2. creative36

    I say take it dow.

    July 18, 2012 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
  3. creative36

    I say take it down. That school needs to start over and forget that shameful past.

    July 18, 2012 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • PK

      The statue was erected for the good Paterno did no tear it down for 1 mistake. He was an exceptional football coach, and should be remembered for.

      July 18, 2012 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Me

    Take down the statue but why is there such a need to stop football there if only for a year or two or three? The present and future athletes shouldn't have to pay for what happened in the past. There's already a stigma associated with Penn State that is going make it have to struggle as it is. And is everyone going to be naive and think that this reprehensible behavior doesn't happen at other universities, schools, etc.? It's unfortunate that there are a lot of other offenders out there that haven't even gotten caught yet. Let this scandal open everyone's eyes so this kind of thing doesn't happen anymore...

    July 18, 2012 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
  5. madjim

    I am so glad to see that the State College / Penn State University community is SO CONCERNED over a freaking statue and Paterno's legacy – but seen and heard very little of their concern for the abused kids and the 10 plus years of cover up to allow sandusky to continue molesting little boys. This community and the university has some f up morals and priorities.

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

      madjim

      It is the media and haters who keep bringing this up, not the PSU community. We will never be able to go forward, so long as people keep publishing stories about it.

      July 18, 2012 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • TOM PROVOST

      PLEASE....I AM SICK TO DEATH OF HEARING THAT PENN STATE UNIVERSITY DOESNT CARE ABOUT THE VICTIMS OF JERRY SANDUSKY...NOT ONLY IS IT NOT TRUE BUT IT IS A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT SUBJECT THAN THE STATUE OF JOE PATERNO....TEARING DOWN THE STATUE WILL NOT HELP ONE VICTIM ERASE WHAT HAPPENED TO THEM. TO PUNISH THE ENITRE UNIVERSITY FOR THE SINS OF ONE MAN IS LUDICROUS. I HOPE ALL THE FACTS IN THIS HORRID MESS COMES OUT AND THEN AND ONLY THEN WILL YOU HAVE AN OPINION BASED ON FACT AND NOT HYSTERIA

      July 18, 2012 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Actually ...

      @madjim: You'd actually be surprised what you'd find out if you read more than just what is reported on CNN. There's been numerous efforts by Penn State, students, and alumni to fundraise for and raise awareness of child protection charities. Those things aren't getting covered in the news, of course, because they're not nearly as popular as discussions about the statue. Still, it's a good exercise to do some more research before you go around writing off an entire school as being solely concerned with a statue.

      July 18, 2012 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
  6. rosie

    Take it down and put in Jerry's cell. That way he can remember the wonderful guy that helped him bugger even more kids.

    July 18, 2012 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • RetiredVet

      I agree with you Rosie, as far as Tom Provost – DID YOU NOT HEAR OR READ THE FREEH REPORT? JOE PATERNO LOOKED THE OTHER WAY WHILE THIS WAS GOING ON, GET OFF THE PENN STATE KOOL AID.

      July 18, 2012 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
  7. JamesTX

    Just turn it around so that he 'looks the other way'.

    July 18, 2012 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Joe

    As a former Penn State studen and great admirer of Joe Pa and the Nitany Lions, I think the statue should be removed. As much as Joe Paterno did for the students at Penn State and the football team, it was just unconscienable NOT to have done everything, or ANYTHING, within your ability to help keep safe a child.

    July 18, 2012 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
  9. RJM

    More disturbing that the statue are the words inscribed on the wall behind the statue
    "Joseph Vincent Paterno Coach, Educator, Humanitarian"
    Humanitarian? Tell that to Sandusky's victims, the one's whose names, ages, well-being Papa Joe didn't try to discover. He enabled a rapist and and pedophile and brought great disgrace to Penn State. Tear it down.

    July 18, 2012 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Deedeek

      Totally Agree, the words behind the statue are much, much worse.

      July 18, 2012 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Fredo

    The old man was an enabler, therefore, his statue should be placed in the hall of shame.

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

    The comments left by most people on the page make me embarrassed to be an American. Joe Paterno is not what's wrong with this country... the real problem is the idiots that post nonsense on this article.

    July 18, 2012 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • RetiredVet

      It is called "Freedom of Speech", so you don't like what people are expressing about Joe Paterno? Then it looks like you condone his inactions to the victims of Jerry Sandusky. Don't like others opinions, then leave this country.

      July 18, 2012 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
  12. psualum

    @ Mark Krause

    "Level the campus"
    Are you crazy or just stupid?!

    How would you recommend doing that to the Vatican or every Boy Scout Troop where children were molested?

    You need to wake up!! Few people knew what was taking place. You cannot punish everyone for the actions of a few. We want changes to be made as well. Those who were invoIved need to be punished. I agree with a bowl ban or taking the profits from the sports programs this year or even the next 5 years and donating them to a child youth organization. But to close the campus and as others have said burn everything down, people need to be realistic.

    July 18, 2012 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Norm

      @psualum:
      No, you and the rest of the PSU/JoePa cult need to wake up. Its your admiration of this man and the sham idea that PSU is "special" that created the brand that these men were trying to protect. They had no concern what so ever as to the children. All they cared about was keeping the PSU image intact for all the little PSU sheep like you. You are just as much to blame as any other enabler of Sandusky and the whole PSU cult needs a good shot across the mouth if for no reason other than to shut you up for 3 seconds about why PSU is "so special". IT'S NOT!! IT'S JUST A SCHOOL!!

      July 18, 2012 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • lumpy

      Why yes, what a great idea! Level the Vatican! that's the best idea I've heard in decades!

      July 18, 2012 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
  13. JimBob

    When all is said and done, there will not be a place in front of the double-wide trailers at PSJC(Penn State Junior College) for any statue. Tear it down, melt it down and make bike racks.

    July 18, 2012 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Sam

    Just move it over by the library. It would serve as a reminder to keep quiet at all times.

    July 18, 2012 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Fredo

    They should erect a statue of Jerry showering Joe Pa.

    July 18, 2012 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
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