State College, PA - Centre County - Central Pennsylvania - Home of Penn State University

Joe Paterno Statue Removed and Taken Inside Beaver Stadium

by and on July 22, 2012 6:50 AM

Updated at 9:39 a.m.

Steve Barnes sent an email to his old friend from medical school Friday, telling him he's putting his faith in him to make the best judgment when providing input on whether the bronze Joe Paterno statue should stand or fall.

Within a day, Dave Joyner, Penn State's acting athletic director, responded.

"Well, you know, from what I can do, I will do what I can," Barnes, the medical director of Mount Nittany Center for Wound Care, said, summarizing Joyner's response.

When the fences with blue tarp went up around the statue and the streets closed shortly after 6 Sunday morning, the world knew Penn State President Rodney Erickson's decision.

Joe must go.

"It's not for me to judge the rightness or the wrongness of it," said Barnes, whose wife, Gayle, was one of 12 jurors who sent Jerry Sandusky to jail for life last month. "But I feel a bit betrayed because it's another mididle-of-the-night move.

"If this is the new transparency, I think we have a long, long, long way to go to try to restore the faith of the community, the world and the Penn State alumni."

The Paterno statue officially was removed at 8:20 a.m., about 40 minutes after the drilling had started. It was taken inside Beaver Stadium for storage.

More than 100 students watched the process and chanted, "We Are . . . Penn State," once the metal gate shut and the statue was out of sight.

Days of speculation ended when Erickson finally made the call to remove the statue of the former football coach. The statue had become a lightning rod of controversy following the release of the Freeh Report, Penn State's internal investigation into the Sandusky child sex abuse scandal which implicated Paterno and three other high-ranking university officials in a cover-up.

Sandusky was convicted June 22 on 45 of 48 counts of child sex abuse. He's awaiting sentencing from Centre County Correctional Facility.

The 7-foot, 900-pound bronze Paterno statue was installed in Nov. 2001 and was a must-visit during a home football game on Saturdays in Happy Valley.

Approximately 25 donors contributed $650,000 for the project, which cost about $400,000.

Paterno's wife Sue, son David, daughter Mary Kay Hort and Pro Football Hall of Famer Franco Harris dropped by the statue on Friday for what turned out to be a final visit.

Others flocked to the statue Saturday for a final photograph.

More returned Sunday morning to do the same. Most left with nothing.

Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.

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