STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Amid calls for the removal of football coach Joe Paterno's statue from the Penn State campus, some students have started a vigil to protect it from vandals.
Seniors Mike Elliot and Kevin Berkon organized a gathering at the statue after a plane flew over the campus Tuesday with a banner that read: "Take the statue down or we will."[+] EnlargeAP Photo/Gene J. PuskarThe statue of Joe Paterno, once a rallying point for support of the late coach, has become a lightning rod for critics of the school and its football program.
The students said they would be at the statue again Wednesday night, but weren't sure how long they would keep the vigil.
The plane is licensed to Air America Aerial Ads of Genoa, Ohio. A person who answered the phone at Air America declined to give his name or identify who paid for the flight.
Federal Aviation Administration records show the agency grounded a plane from the same company after it towed banners taunting Tiger Woods during the 2010 Masters golf tournament.
The Paterno statue outside Beaver Stadium has been a point of much contention since the results from a scathing report by former FBI director Louis Freeh were made public and greatly tarnished the reputation of a man once known as "JoePa."
Critics have called for the statue to be taken down after the Freeh report concluded that Paterno was aware of allegations levied against convicted pedophile Jerry Sandusky in 1998 -- in contrast to his grand jury testimony and an interview given after his firing -- and that he was involved in the decision to not report a 2001 incident to the authorities even after his superiors had decided to.
Penn State president Rodney Erickson said Tuesday that no decision has been made on whether to take it down.
"I'm still in the process of talking with members of my leadership team," Erickson said. "I'll want to talk with members of the board and others. And we will make a decision, and we will make the right decision based on what we believe is the best course of action for the university."
University spokesman David La Torre said a decision on the matter would be made in seven to 10 days.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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