A ‘Recurring Wound': Penn State Will Remove Joe Paterno Statue

After much controversy, Penn State President Rodney Erickson announced this morning that he had decided to remove the statue honoring the school’s former football coach Joe Paterno.

“I now believe that, 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,” Erickson said 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.”

Paterno, a legendary football coach who is often credited with building Penn State, was accused by an internal investigation of covering up the sexual abuse of children by one of his assistant coaches, the now-convicted Jerry Sandusky.

Since then, a debate has raged over what his legacy would be and what the future of the statue outside of Beaver Stadium and indeed the name of the Paterno Library would be.

In his statement, Erickson said the library’s name will remain as it “symbolizes the substantial and lasting contributions to the academic life and educational excellence.”

But the AP reports that shortly before dawn, construction workers arrived at the site of the bronze statue, “barricading the street and sidewalks near the statue, erecting a chain-link fence then concealing the statue with a blue tarp.”

This will no doubt cause controversy. The Patriot News reported yesterday that students have flocked to the statue the last few days, fearing this moment might come.

The News reports:

“Visitors came in a steady stream, some placing flowers, flags and signs at Paterno’s bronzed feet. All snapped pictures with the likeness of a now-controversial coach who some blame for keeping quiet while a pedophile preyed upon boys inside the football locker room.

“This pilgrimage for Paterno has been virtually nonstop since last week when speculation mounted and rumors swirled that the university would take down the 900-pound tribute, perhaps in the dead of night.”

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