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After Plane Circles Campus in Protest, Penn State Says Decision to Tear Down Paterno Statue Looms

by on July 17, 2012 1:48 PM

Updated at 6:15 p.m.

Penn State spokesman Dave la Torre said Tuesday night a decision on the fate of the bronze statue of Joe Paterno is expected in 7-10 days.

Also, Brown University said earlier in the day that it has removed Paterno's name from its head football coaching position and a student award and is reviewing whether to remove him from the school's Athletic Hall of Fame, according to a report in the Providence Journal.

Earlier at 1:48 p.m.

A small commercial plane flew over Penn State’s campus Tuesday with the message, “Take the statue down or we will.”

It’s in apparent protest to the bronze Joe Paterno statue that sits outside Beaver Stadium on Penn State’s campus, which has come under scrutiny in recent days since former FBI director Louis Freeh released a damning report on the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.

The report implicates Paterno in a cover-up of sexual abuse allegations against Sandusky, his former assistant who awaits a de-facto life sentencing after being convicted of 45 counts in a child sex abuse case last month.

The plane flew out of the Ridge Soaring Gliderport in Julian this morning and circled campus for about three hours. The plane belongs to Drake Aerial Enterprises, a commercial banner towing company in Ohio.

Jason Howe, a representative for Drake Aerial Enterprises, chose not to divulge the cost of the plane, who wanted the message flown above campus or whether or not they paid for future airspace. He was not certain whether or not his client or clientele had Penn State ties.

Quite simply, Howe said, he helps run an advertising agency and believes in First Amendment rights and freedom of speech.

“It’s real simple, if someone has contradictory views, we can fly a plane," he said. "My personal view has no bearing on this whatever.

“I fly the ads. That’s all I do.”

Howe said he was not aware of the distraction the plane would cause at Penn State. Calls for the statue to be torn down have intensified since the Freeh Report was released Thursday.

Penn State has not made a decision regarding the future of the statue.

Nate Mink covers Penn State football and news for He's on Twitter as @MinkNate.
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