Paterno Statue Removed From Penn State Prior to NCAA Sanctions

5 years ago

Penn State University President Rodney Erickson ordered the removal of the Joe Paterno statue on Sunday, a day prior to the NCAA levying "unprecedented" sanctions against the University.

The Centre Daily Times reported that 30 police officers and construction workers arrived just before dawn to begin removing the statue. Workers in hard hats quickly barricaded the area and erected a chain-link fence used to conceal the statue behind a blue tarp. The statue was then removed via forklift as 100-150 students chanted, "We are Penn State."

The Joe Paterno statue outside of Beaver Stadium in State College, Pennsylvania, is illuminated late on Saturday, July 21, 2012. In the early hours of the morning on Sunday crews arrived to take down the statue. (Credit Image: © Abby Drey/Centre Daily Times/MCT/

Weighing more than 900 pounds and standing 7-foot-tall, the bronze sculpture was built in 2001 to honor Paterno's record-setting 324th Division I coaching victory and his "contributions to the university." It stood outside Beaver Stadium and was an iconic landmark on campus.

The statue, however, had become such a lightning rod for public opinion and Erickson's statement explained, "I now believe that, contrary to is original intention, Coach Paterno's statue has become a source of division and an obstacle to hearing in our university and beyond. For that reason, I have decided that it is in the best interest of our university and public safety to remove the statue and store it in a secure location."

Paterno passed away six months ago at the age of 86 but his widow, Sue, and two of their children visited the statue Friday as students and fans lined up to get their pictures taken with the larger than life sculpture.

The university president said Paterno's name will remain on the campus library because it "symbolizes the substantial and lasting contributions to the academic life and educational excellence that the Paterno family has made to Penn State University."

NCAA Sanctions

As a follow-up to the removal of the statue, NCAA president Mark Emmert announced crippling sanctions for the Penn State Football program Monday morning including a $60 million fine, a four year postseason ban, scholarship reductions, and a five year probation period.

The Paterno family released a statement in response to the sanctions which include vacating 111 of Paterno’s wins.

The Big Ten council of presidents and chancellors support the sanctions handed down by the NCAA and have also ruled that Penn State will not receive its share of conference bowl revenue for the next four years.

Of course these events were all precipitated by a 23-page Grand Jury report in November 2011 that rocked Penn State to its core. As a result of former coach Jerry Sandusky being charged with committing sexual abuse against 12 minors and the subsequent fallout of several key school administrators and coach Joe Paterno, a dark stain taints the history of the University.

The decision to remove the statue came 10 days after a report conducted by former FBI director Louis J. Freeh concluded that Paterno, as well as other top Penn State administrators, concealed the allegations of child sexual abuse made against Sandusky.

The Paterno family statement says, in part, that the statue's removal "does not serve the victims of Jerry Sandusky's horrible crimes or help heal the Penn State community." The family, which has vowed its own investigation, calling the report by former FBI director Louis Freeh "incomplete and unofficial."

The downfall of the football program, along with stiff sanctions from the NCAA, will affect not only students and administrators, but local businesses as well. Many rely on the commerce from the tens of thousands who flood State College on game days and those business owners will likely see a reduction in customers and income.

 The ripple effect from Sandusky's actions just keeps on rippling.

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