CNN is reporting that the statue of the late Pennsylvania State University football coachoutside the campus' football stadium has been taken down. The president of the University explained, "I now believe that, contrary to its original intention, coach Paterno's statue has become a source of division and an obstacle to healing in our university and beyond,"
Following the child rape scandal involving former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky, the Paterno statue became a flashpoint for both supporters and detractors of the memory of the late coach.
Demands for removal of the Paterno statue reached a crescendo after release of the Freeh Report, the damning investigative document compiled by former FBI Director Louis Freeh.
The report revealed that several high ranking Penn State officials consciously concealed evidence that Sandusky was a serial, long term child abuser. Freeh noted that Paterno had, or should have had, knowledge of that ongoing abuse; and could have, or should have stopped it. In any event, Sandusky has been convicted of 45 counts of child sexual abuse involving 10 victims.
The 900-pound bronze statue, outside Beaver Stadium, will be stored in a "secure location." The removal of the statute is testament to a new and deeper awareness of the pervasive presence of child sexual abuse in other heretofore sacrosanct areas and institutions. Specifically, it also reflects a genuine disgust with the rather lackadasical and certainly inadequate responses of the Catholic Church to this same issue relative to a significant number of pedophilic priests.
In a discussion today on the MSNBC Melissa Harris-Perry Show, much was made of “how the mighty have fallen.” Just over one year ago, Joe Paterno and Penn State were considered the epitome of college sports, particularly college football. In that same year, Paterno's image, memory and legacy have been completely discredited, if not destroyed.
The influence of big money donors, “boosters,” and alumni on not just college sports programs, but on college and university policy, programs and procedures in virtually all areas was explored. College coaches are often the highest paid “faculty” members on campus. Athletic departments at the big state and private schools usually dwarf in size and resources all other departments.
At the same time, while generating multi-millions, even billions, of dollars for their schools, the actual “workers,” the athletes themselves, go unpaid – and often uneducated at these same schools.
The Freeh Report does not address these issues, but an examination of the NCAA-Media nexus, and its role in perpetrating a virtual system of slave labor is long overdue.
Finally, now that Joe Paterno has been removed from the Mt. Rushmore of college sports, perhaps such a discussion and analysis can begin in earnest.