The Joe Paterno statue, located on the west side of Beaver Stadium in State College, has been one of the most-discussed topics in the wake of Louis Freeh's scathing report on the failures of top Penn State officials, including Paterno, to stop child rapist Jerry Sandusky.
Many have called for the statue's immediate removal, including former Florida State coach Bobby Bowden, while some others, including Penn State running back Silas Redd and Penn State fans/students I spoke with for this piece, want it to stay. One student I met Thursday night at the statue said, "If it's really coming down, all hell's breaking loose." Penn State's trustees on Thursday said no immediate decisions have been made on the Paterno statue or how to honor or not honor Paterno.
"We feel honoring coach Paterno is a sensitive issue," Penn State board of trustees chair Karen Peetz said. "It's going to take a lot of dialogue with the community. We want to be reflective and take our time. There's not a timeline or deadline. That's not necessary. It's going to take a lot of discussion."
Penn State issued a statement on the statue Sunday, saying no decision has been made on its future.
ESPN's Don Van Natta Jr. reported Saturday that the trustees will leave the statue standing for now, and some hope, forever. Not surprisingly, though, there's disagreement among the group.
From Van Natta's story:
"You can't let people stampede you into making a rash decision," a trustee said. "The statue represents the good that Joe did. It doesn't represent the bad that he did."
Although some trustees said in discussions Thursday and Friday in board meetings in Scranton, Pa., they believed the statue eventually would have to be torn down, most quickly reached a consensus it should remain standing in the coming weeks and months, trustees and a person briefed on their discussions said. Some trustees went even further, insisting Paterno's statue outside Beaver Stadium in State College, Pa., never should be removed.
"It has to stay up," said another trustee. "We have to let a number of months pass, and we'll address it again. But there is no way, no way. It's just not coming down."
What do you think Penn State should do? You couldn't blame the school for wanting to distance itself from Paterno as the former coach's legacy has been marred by what's come to light. The national demand is strong for the school to act, and act now.
On the flip side, Paterno's positive accomplishments at the school cannot be ignored. As one fan told me, "He donated a lot to the library and so forth. What are they going to do, knock the library down?" While there's no way Penn State names its stadium after Paterno, the school could keep it existing tributes.
Penn State could wait until things have quieted down a bit to make a decision. Or the school could wait until after the trials of former officials Gary Schultz and Tim Curley.
Time to vote. Make yours count.