Penn State coach Joe Paterno tumbled from his perch of high standing when the school fired him after the arrest of his former defensive coordinator for multiple cases of child molestation. As a result of the scandal, Penn State removed a statue celebrating Paterno in front of Beaver Stadium. But now a group of alumni want a statue of Paterno restored in State College, Pennsylvania.
Paterno, leading the Nittany Lions to 37 bowl games during his tenure from 1966 to 2011, inspired followers as much as fans. Even as the child molestation scandal developed and Penn State dismissed Paterno, students angry with the firing rioted in the streets. Earlier, more than 300 Penn State athletes came to Paterno’s aide signing a letter in support of the embattled coach.
Regardless, the school removed the statue due to the dishonor that the scandal brought to the university. But now, two years after the statue’s removal, a group of alumni want to erect a new statue celebrating Paterno’s long career. The new statue may end up outside a local tavern in town and will feature an image of the coach sitting on a park bench and reading the classic book The Aeneid by Virgil. Local alum Kim Intorre, who is involved in the planning of the new statue, hopes to raise $300,000 for the project.
“This is our opportunity to honor Joe and the Paterno family not only for what they meant to the university but for the town and the community,” alumni Ted Sebastianelli, also a past Penn State football player, said. “State College would not be what it was.”
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at email@example.com