Paterno statue carted off to undisclosed location

The Joe Paterno statue has been sent to an undisclosed location. D3.
The Joe Paterno statue has been sent to an undisclosed location. D3. (AP)
Posted: July 28, 2012

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - The 7-foot bronze version of Joe Paterno was loaded into the back of a truck and driven out of Beaver Stadium for the last time Friday morning, sources told The Inquirer.

Construction workers inside the stadium loaded the 900-pound statue into a truck that left the stadium for an undisclosed location, a sad end to a monument erected 11 years ago in honor of a man once revered as a "molder of men" before becoming marred in the child sex-abuse scandal that rocked his school.

The iconic statue commemorating the former Penn State coach had been stored inside Beaver Stadium after being removed by construction workers Sunday morning, until it was transported Friday.

The statue's current location is unknown.

"As we've maintained from day one, the statue will be stored in a safe and secure location until a permanent location is decided," Penn State spokesperson David La Torre said.

La Torre would not confirm or deny that the statue had been removed from the stadium. Others involved at the university remained tight-lipped.

Members of the president's office, athletic department and players all directed questions to La Torre. Board of trustees member Anthony Lubrano and several construction and maintenance workers at Beaver Stadium declined to comment.

The statue was likely moved in part to keep the public from knowing its current resting spot.

Members of the university have said several times since the scandal began that Penn State would be more open with happenings at the university. Even Friday at Big Ten media days, football coach Bill O'Brien told the members of the media, "You have had more access to Penn State football in the last six months than you did in the last 30 years."

While that may be true, high-ranking officials at the university continue to clam up about anything related to Paterno. The statue is the latest example.

It was removed Sunday morning without more than two hours notice, brought to an undisclosed location within the stadium, then transported Friday without a statement to the public.

"I'm not surprised," said Vin Tedesco, an alumni volunteer and graduate of the Class of 1964. "The people affiliated with the university are fairly gutless."

Still, Tedesco and hundreds like him volunteer their time here as the sidewalks fill with prospective students and tour guides. They do it, he said, because they love the university - just not the people running it.

On Wednesday, the board of trustees held a closed-door, three-hour meeting to discuss President Rodney Erickson's handling of the NCAA sanctions. The board left without publicly answering questions.

"You can't say you're going to be more open, then decide what to be open about and what not to be open about," Tedesco said. "That's called hypocrisy."

Since the scandal, the statue has been a rallying point for both Paterno supporters and critics. Supporters say it commemorates the life of a man who dedicated everything he had to this school. Critics call it an ugly reminder of a town and school that put football above all else.

When Angelo Di Maria sculpted the statue, he anticipated it would stand proudly for hundreds, if not thousands, of years.

Now that it's gone, the statue is little more to him than 900 pounds of bronze.

"As an artist, I almost have to isolate that work, which I did with so much passion," Di Maria said. "I had no idea that it was going to snowball into this huge public awareness."

Di Maria had been foreign to football and Paterno. That that was part of the appeal to having him erect the statue. He attended his first football game when he went to take pictures of Paterno to have as a reference as he built the statue.

Now, he's watching in amazement as people of both sides - supporters and critics of the statue - use it as a rallying point. To him, it's all too fresh right now. He wishes people would have let everything sink in for a few months before making a decision on the statue.

"Even in hiding," Di Maria said, "that statue stirs feelings."

The feelings are well-known. Much about the statute no longer is.


Contact Chad Graff at cgraff@philly.com. Follow on Twitter @ChadGraff.

 

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