Paterno’s Name Keeps Getting Erased
Ever since it became public knowledge in November that Joe Paterno didn’t do everything he could to stop former assistant Jerry Sandusky from sexually abusing boys at Penn State football facilities, organizations have been rethinking the honors given the longtime Nittany Lions coach.
This is a look at institutions that removed Paterno’s name or imagery after Sandusky’s arrest.
A year before the conference got its 12th team (Penn State was No. 11), the league came out with a raft of trophies that appeared to be named by committee. For the upcoming championship game, the prize was to be the Stagg-Paterno Trophy, named for former University of Chicago coach Amos Alonso Stagg and Penn State’s legend. Less than a week after Paterno was fired by the university, the Big Ten announced that it was taking Paterno’s name off the trophy, which had yet to be awarded. Wisconsin beat Michigan State to become the first team to win the Stagg Championship Trophy.
At Paterno’s memorial service in January, Nike founder and CEO Phil Knight won a thunderous standing ovation when he said: “If there is a villain in this tragedy, it lies in that investigation and not in Joe Paterno’s response.” Then the Freeh Report found that Paterno helped hush up allegations of child sex abuse against Sandusky for more than a decade. That same day, Knight said he had been wrong, and Nike’s president took the name off the Joe Paterno Child Development Center at Nike headquarters in Oregon.
NITTANYVILLE (FORMERLY PATERNOVILLE)
For years, the area of tents where Penn State students camped outside Beaver Stadium for prime seats was called Paternoville, in a nod to a similar phenomenon at Duke named Krzyzewskiville for the Blue Devils’ basketball coach. The student group that manages the Penn State area changed the name to Nittanyville last week.
As soon as Sandusky was charged and it was known that Paterno had failed to do anything more than report an incident to his superiors, questions about the fate of the statue of Paterno outside Beaver Stadium began. By the time the Freeh Report came out, it already seemed as if the statue with the words “Educator, Coach, Humanitarian” might not stay in place. Sure enough, early Sunday morning, crews erected a screen and took the statue down behind it. On Tuesday, the wall behind the statue came down, too.
Brown University, the late coach’s alma mater, said that it’s reviewing whether to remove Paterno from the school’s athletic hall of fame, too. Paterno, a member of the Ivy League school’s class of 1950, was inducted into the hall in 1977. Brown already took his name off an award given annually to the school’s top male freshman athlete.
STATE COLLEGE MURAL (HALO ONLY)
A mural titled “Inspiration” including Paterno and Sandusky and other members of the State College community was painted near campus 12 years ago. After Sandusky was charged, his likeness was painted over. After Paterno died, artist Michael Pilato added a halo, to signify his death, not his holiness. After the release of the Freeh Report, he painted over the halo. He added a large blue ribbon, instead, on Paterno’s lapel symbolizing support for child abuse victims. Sandusky has been convicted and is awaiting sentencing.
CONNECTICUT MIDDLE SCHOOL MURAL
State College didn’t have a monopoly on Paterno murals. Great Oak Middle School in Oxford, Conn., has a series of them, depicting admirable historic figures. They’re going to paint over the portion that depicts Paterno, the Hartford Courant’s website reported.
As part of the NCAA’s sanctions handed down on Monday, 112 Penn State wins were vacated. Paterno was credited with 111 of those, and reached the Division I record of 409 last Oct. 29 with a win over Illinois. Late the following week, Sandusky was charged, and Paterno was fired in the aftermath.
On Monday, all those wins were erased, along with Paterno’s name atop the record books. Officially, he now has 298 victories and former Florida State coach Bobby Bowden holds the top spot in the NCAA record book with 377 major-college wins. Eddie Robinson, who led Grambling to 408 victories, regained the Division I mark.
The NCAA also took back the Gerald Ford Award it gave to Paterno in January 2011. The honor is for someone who has been a lifelong advocate of college athletics.
The name of the sandwich shop in the Hetzel Union Building was changed from “Joegies” to HUB Subs — and the store is still closed for the summer.