As I reported on Friday morning, sources indicated that Penn State president Rodney Erickson had made the decision to remove the Joe Paterno statue this weekend. That removal began at approximately 7 a.m Sunday morning when police set up a barrier on the road in front of the statue. A fence was then put up, just outside of the sidewalk and was then tarped, to block much of the view of the statue.
Shortly after, the forklift arrived and the jackhammering began. At around 8:20, the statue came down and was moved into Beaver Stadium storage. Exactly six months after the death of Paterno, the statue at Beaver Stadium has fallen. The statue, which has served as a memorial for the late coach since that bitterly cold Sunday morning in January, will now leave an empty hole outside of Beaver Stadium, leaving a memory of what once was in its absence.
Erickson released a statement this morning, stating that
The statue of Joe Paterno outside Beaver Stadium has become a lightning rod of controversy and national debate, including the role of big time sports in university life. The Freeh Report has given us a great deal to reflect upon and to consider, including Coach Paterno’s legacy.
The term “lightning rod” couldn’t be more accurate. This statue has been the center of pointless debates for over a week now and has become a polarizing point of discussion for all things Penn State.
Erickson goes on to say that
The Paterno Library symbolizes the substantial and lasting contributions to the academic life and educational excellence that the Paterno family has made to Penn State University. The library remains a tribute to Joe and Sue Paterno’s commitment to Penn State’s student body and academic success, and it highlights the positive impacts Coach Paterno had on the University. Thus I feel strongly that the library’s name should remain unchanged.
I think most people had accepted that this was the way it would go down. The statue, symbolizing Joe Paterno the coach, would come down. The library, symbolizing the Paterno family’s dedication to education, would remain.
When I woke up to find this news on Twitter, it was a very surreal moment. While I applaud Penn State leadership on making a decision and acting, the realization that this changes nothing set in. Nothing other than to appease the critics who will not move on to the library or the death penalty or whatever the next needle-mover becomes.
This certainly feels like a step, though I don’t know what direction it is in.
You can read President Erickson’s full statement HERE.
Read about the players represented behind the statue HERE.
For all of the latest on the Penn State Nittany Lions, follow VBR Lead Editor Tim Tolley on Twitter.
Also, check out my twitter timeline from Sunday morning for pictures from the media who were on site.