The connection Joe Paterno had with some students of Penn State remains strong, so much so that a group started a round-the-clock vigil to make sure that the statue of the deceased coach’s statue on campus is not vandalized by those mortified by his negligence in the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse travesty that threatens the existence of the program Paterno built to a prominent level.
There are so many who are outraged by presence of the statue outside the football stadium and want it removed. Earlier this week, a plane flew over campus with a banner that read: Take the statue down or we will.”
It was that act that motivated seniors Mike Elliot and Kevin Berkon to organize a gathering at the statue as a way of preserving it from potential person who might vandalize it. The students planned to be there a few nights, but were not sure how long they would commit to protecting it.
The plane is licensed to Air America Aerial Ads of Genoa, Ohio. Federal Aviation Administration records show the agency grounded a plane from the same company after it towed banners taunting Tiger Woods during the 2010 Masters golf tournament.
The Paterno statue outside Beaver Stadium has been a point of much contention since the results from a scathing report by former FBI director Louis Freeh were made public and greatly tarnished the reputation of a man once known as “JoePa.”
Critics have called for the statue to be taken down after the Freeh report concluded that Paterno was aware of allegations levied against convicted pedophile Jerry Sandusky in 1998 — in contrast to his grand jury testimony and an interview given after his firing — and that he was involved in the decision to not report a 2001 incident to the authorities even after his superiors had decided to.
Penn State president Rodney Erickson said no decision has been made on whether to take it down.
“I’m still in the process of talking with members of my leadership team,” Erickson said. “I’ll want to talk with members of the board and others. And we will make a decision, and we will make the right decision based on what we believe is the best course of action for the university.”