STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Joe Paterno’s name is losing its luster, whether it’s the tent city outside Beaver Stadium where students camp out for prime football tickets or the name associated with his alma mater’s football coach job.
“Paternoville” is out, swapped for “Nittanyville” on Monday. So respected was Paterno that another university – Brown, the late coach’s alma mater – had attached his name to its coaching job. That too ended.
In a matter of months, the once unimpeachable Paterno name has become an albatross rather than an honor. The tainted reputation results from a scathing report by former FBI director Louis Freeh that concluded Paterno helped cover up child sex abuse allegations against former assistant Jerry Sandusky.
Penn State said it will respond within days to the NCAA’s demand for information as the governing body decides whether the university should face penalties in the wake of the scandal.
Penn State President Rodney Erickson said he doesn’t want to ‘’jump to conclusions’’ about possible sanctions after the head of the NCAA declared the so-called death penalty has not been ruled out.
Brown University, in a statement, said that not only had it removed Paterno’s name from its head football coaching position and a student award, but it was also reviewing whether to remove him from the school’s athletic hall of fame, too. Paterno graduated from Brown in 1950 and was inducted to its hall of fame in 1977.
The Freeh report has even tarnished the bronze statue of Paterno that had been a rallying point for students in the months since Sandusky’s November arrest touched off a scandal as notable for its breathtaking allegations as its place: Happy Valley.
On Tuesday, a small plane pulled a banner over State College reading, “Take the statue down or we will.” 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 Tournament.
Nike took Paterno’s name off a child care center on its corporate campus.
The halo that had floated above Paterno’s head in a State College mural was removed Saturday. In its place the artist added a blue ribbon in support of child abuse awareness.
And a Connecticut middle school said it would paint over its own mural of Paterno.
Although there was some negative reaction to Paterno immediately after Sandusky’s arrest – the Big Ten dropped Paterno’s name from the conference championship trophy where it had been next to that of Amos Alonzo Stagg, who won almost 100 fewer games – the pace has picked up since the Freeh report was released.
The Paterno statue outside Beaver Stadium has been a point of much contention. Critics have called for the statue to be taken down after the Freeh report concluded that Paterno was aware of a 1998 allegations against Sandusky – 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.
The Freeh report raised the culpability of Paterno and former university President Graham Spanier to the same level as two other key figures: former Vice President Gary Schultz and athletic director Tim Curley.
Both Schultz and Curley await trial on charges of perjury and failure to report suspected child abuse. A judge on Monday set an Aug. 16 court date for oral arguments on pretrial motions.
Spanier is not charged.