STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Penn State plans to renovate the building where former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky sexually molested boys, confronting one of the most potent and sinister symbols of a scandal from which it is still trying to recover.
The school intends to remodel the football team shower and locker room area as a direct result of Sandusky’s crimes, university spokesman David La Torre told The Associated Press on Friday.
Renovation plans for the Lasch Football Building were drawn up shortly after Sandusky’s arrest in November, La Torre said, but the university can’t move forward with those plans until all possible legal proceedings have been completed.
Sandusky, a longtime member of Joe Paterno’s coaching staff, was convicted in June of abusing 10 boys over a 15-year period. Two top administrators face trial on charges of lying to a grand jury and failing to report allegations of child abuse.
Some of the most stomach-churning assaults for which Sandusky, 68, was convicted took place in the showers of the Lasch building. A janitor saw Sandusky performing oral sex on a boy in 2000 but didn’t report it to authorities. In 2001, a graduate football assistant caught Sandusky molesting a boy in the shower and told Paterno, who alerted top administrators. No one reported that attack, either.
The disclosure of Penn State’s remodeling plans came as the school weighs how to deal with the ubiquitous imagery associated with the scandal. Besides the building, there’s the bronzed statue of Paterno and the library that’s named after him, as well as a downtown mural depicting the Hall of Fame coach and ousted Penn State President Graham Spanier.
Reminders of the Sandusky scandal, and the senior school officials accused of covering it up, are all over Penn State’s campus and State College.
“Does the university want to completely wipe the slate clean? If they do, then they probably want to get rid of something like this – they can still honor Joe in a different way,” said Erik Sandell, of Minneapolis.
“Get rid of this, get rid of that facility.”
Florida State coach Bobby Bowden said the statue should be taken down.
“You go to a Penn State football game and there’s 100,000 people down there and they got that statute and you know doggone well they’ll start talking about Sandusky,” Bowden said.
“If it was me, I wouldn’t want to have it brought up every time I walked out on the field.”
A huge downtown mural shows many figures in Penn State history. The artist, Michael Pilato, said he had no immediate plans to remove Paterno or Spanier. He already painted over Sandusky, replacing him with a Penn State grad who is an advocate for abuse victims and issues.
Ex-Gov. Ed Rendell, who left office last year, said Paterno’s name should stay on the library – “it symbolizes the good of Joe Paterno,” he said – but that other reminders, such as the statue, should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.