Paterno statue comes down
After weeks of speculation, Penn State’s President Rod Erickson ordered the statue of iconic football coach Joe Paterno removed from it’s perch near Beaver Stadium.
The famed statue of Joe Paterno was taken down from outside the Penn State football stadium Sunday, eliminating a key piece of the iconography surrounding the once-sainted football coach accused of burying child sex abuse allegations against a retired assistant.
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 watching chanted, “We are Penn State.”
The university announced earlier Sunday that it was taking down the monument in the wake of an investigative report that found the late coach and three other top Penn State administrators concealed sex abuse claims against retired assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.
The statue, weighing more than 900 pounds, was built in 2001 in honor of Paterno’s record-setting 324th Division 1 coaching victory and his “contributions to the university.”
A spokeswoman for the Paterno family didn’t immediately return phone and email messages.
Construction vehicles and police arrived shortly after dawn Sunday, barricading the street and sidewalks near the statue, erecting a chain-link fence then concealing the statue with a blue tarp.
Penn State President Rod Erickson said he decided to have the statue removed and put into storage because it “has become a source of division and an obstacle to healing.”
“I believe that, were it to remain, the statue will be a recurring wound to the multitude of individuals across the nation and beyond who have been the victims of child abuse,” Erickson said in a statement released at 7 a.m. Sunday.
The Freeh report made it clear that Paterno, who was widely respected for trying to teach a code of behavior to his student athletes, failed to live up to that code when it counted the most — the protection of children. In the end, he was more concerned about the reputation of his football program than in the safety of kids.
NOTE: This is in many ways reflective of the standard of behavior we have allowed in our nation. At one point in our history, we expected integrity in those who held leadership positions. No longer is that true … or is it? Perhaps, we just took our eye off the ball for a while. The truly pathetic part of this whole scandal is how it makes whatever good was accomplished by Paterno over the course of his lifetime at Penn State null and void.
I pray healing and restoration for the victims, and I pray for peace for the families involved – all of them!