Using the shadowy cover of early morning, Penn State fenced off Beaver Stadium, erected a blue tarp and used a forklift to move Joe Paterno’s statue to a “secure location,” the school announced today.
By 8:20 am EST, workers had shuttled the seven-foot bronze tribute into the bowels of the stadium.
Penn State president Rodney Erickson said the statue is an obstacle to healing from the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse scandal that rocked the State College, Pa., school.
“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 wrote on the Penn State website. “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.”
However, Erickson said Penn State would keep Paterno’s name on the school library.
The Paterno family helped raise millions to expand the building.
“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,” Erickson’s statement said.
According to the Freeh report, the football coach and key university administrators were aware of the assistant coach’s abuse of young boys, but didn’t tell police.
Paterno’s family is fighting back, saying its lawyers will scrutinize the evidence and release their own findings.
Paterno died in January from cancer at age 85; he was college football’s most successful coach.
A jury convicted Sandusky of 45 counts of abuse, and he awaits sentencing.
On Sunday morning, police were there to ensure the 900-pound statue’s removal went smoothly.
About 100 students watched the proceedings, but didn’t do much more than chant, “We are Penn State,” StateCollege.com reported.
Twenty-five donors contributed $650,000 to erect the statue in late 2001.
On Friday, Sue Paterno and two of her children – David and Mary Kay Hort – visited the statue. Penn State graduate, and NFL Hall of Famer, Franco Harris was also there.