Penn State president Rodney Erickson is expected to decide whether to move or remove the Joe Paterno statue at Beaver Stadium within the next 72 hours, ESPN's Don Van Natta Jr. is reporting.
While there had been some reports that the trustees had already decided to remove the statue, Van Natta writes that Erickson alone will make the call on what to do with the statue, which has been a source of much controversy since the Freeh report implicated Paterno in helping cover up the Sandusky child sex scandal. School trustees discussed the statue issue in a "spirited" call Thursday night, according to Van Natta's story.
School officials have mulled moving the statue from the stadium to elsewhere on campus, perhaps to the library which bears Paterno's name. While the statue issue has been overblown in the wake of the Freeh report, it remains highly symbolic and is important to some Nittany Lions faithful. A group of students stood watch over the statue this week, while a banner plane flew overhead urging the statue's removal. Taking down the statue would send a message as well.
Van Natta writes:
"The trustees have been concerned this week that the NCAA will hand down an extreme punishment, possibly the death penalty for the football program, for the school's 'loss of institutional control' in the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal. Dealing with the statue issue, and the resignation of Garban, was needed to show the public the board was serious about 'moving forward,' one trustee said.
"'It's a highly sensitive decision,' another trustee said Friday. 'The decision is a symbolic one. We have to be very careful about what kind of message we send.'"
We should know by Monday if the statue will remain. Whether it is taken down or moved, you can bet the video of that will be used all over the place, and that footage will accompany just about every story about the scandal in the future.
Erickson will face heat on this decision no matter what he chooses.