Jul 22, 2012 No Comments ›› Pat Dollard
Excerpted from ESPN: The Joe Paterno statue was removed Sunday morning from its pedestal outside Beaver Stadium, and it will be stored in an unnamed “secure location,” Penn State president Rodney Erickson announced. Erickson also said the Paterno name will remain on the university’s library.
Shortly before dawn in State College, Pa., a work crew installed chain-link fences to barricade access to Porter Road outside Beaver Stadium and covered the fence with a blue tarp.
The work crew then removed the 7-foot, 900-pound bronze statue by forklift and placed it into the lower level of the stadium. Erickson released his highly sensitive decision to the public at 7 a.m. ET Sunday.
Workers lifted the 7-foot-tall statue off its base and used a forklift to move it into Beaver Stadium as the 100 to 150 students watched, some chanting, “We are Penn State.”
The decision came 10 days after a scathing report by former FBI director Louis J. Freeh found that Paterno, with three other top Penn State administrators, had concealed allegations of child sexual abuse made against former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky. The Freeh report concluded their motive was to shield the university and its football program from negative publicity.
Meanwhile, the NCAA said that that it would levy “corrective and punitive measures” against Penn State. The organization announced Sunday that it would spell out the sanctions on Monday but disclosed no details.
The Paterno family issued a statement only hours later saying the statue’s removal “does not serve the victims of Jerry Sandusky’s horrible crimes or help heal the Penn State community.”
“We believe the only way to help the victims is to uncover the full truth,” said the family, which vowed its own investigation following the release of the Freeh report. The family called the report “the equivalent of an indictment — a charging document written by a prosecutor — and an incomplete and unofficial one at that.”
A Paterno family spokesman told ESPN.com that Penn State has not been in communication with them about the statue’s removal.
Paterno’s widow, Sue, and two of the Paternos’ children visited the statue Friday as students and fans lined up to get their pictures taken with the landmark. The statue, weighing more than 900 pounds, was built in 2001 in honor of Paterno’s record-setting 324th Division I coaching victory and his “contributions to the university.”
Erickson’s decision to remove the statue but keep the Paterno name on the library appears to be the product of compromise. Keeping his name on the library does not entirely disconnect Penn State from Paterno’s contributions — from the millions of dollars he donated to his 61-year coaching career to the university’s academic life.