(Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
State College, PA (Sports Network) - The statue of legendary Penn State head
football coach Joe Paterno was removed from the front of Beaver Stadium on
Sunday in another aftershock of the Freeh Report following the school's
investigation into the child sex abuse scandal against former assistant coach
University president Rodney Erickson announced the decision Sunday morning.
"Contrary to its original intention, Coach Paterno's statue has become a
source of division and an obstacle to healing in our university and beyond,"
said Erickson in a statement. "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. 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."
The statement was released early Sunday morning and the actual removal of the
statue came a short time later.
Only a handful of people watched as a construction crew worked on the statue,
which was wrapped and covered as it was jackhammered out of the concrete and
Erickson also said Paterno's name will remain on the school's library.
"The Paterno Library symbolizes the substantial and lasting contributions to
the academic life and educational excellence that the Paterno family has made
to Penn State University," Erickson continued. "The library remains a tribute
to Joe and (wife) Sue Paterno's commitment to Penn State's student body and
academic success, and it highlights the positive impacts Coach Paterno had on
the university. Thus I feel strongly that the library's name should remain
The Paternos contributed millions of dollars to the university, not just for
athletics, but also for academics.
However, the statue -- a 7-foot tall structure erected in 2001 -- had become a
source of controversy since the Freeh Report revealed that Paterno knew more
about the Sandusky issue than he originally acknowledged. The late coach's
family has denied those assertions.
"I fully realize that my decision will not be popular in some Penn State
circles, but I am certain it is the right and principled decision," Erickson
concluded. "I believe we have chosen a course that both recognizes the many
contributions that Joe Paterno made to the academic life of our university,
while taking seriously the conclusions of the Freeh Report and the national
issue of child sexual abuse. Today, as every day, our hearts go out to the
Paterno, who died in January of lung cancer, was fired last November, less
than a week after Sandusky's arrest on child sex abuse charges. Sandusky was
convicted last month on 45 of the 48 counts charging him with sexual abuse
against 10 boys over a 15-year period and will likely spend the rest of his
life in jail after he is sentenced later this year.
The Sports Network