Our View | Timing of Paterno, Pattee statue proposal is suspect

January 23, 2014 

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Trustee Joel Myers leaves the executive session. The Penn State University board of trustees held an executive session Friday, November 1, 2013, at the Nittany Lion Inn, in University Park, Pa.

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While we appreciate Joel Myers’ call for unity at Penn State, we don’t think another statue of Joe Paterno is the right means for achieving that bond, nor do we think this is the right time to be considering such a step.

We also must question the timing of Myers’ call for honoring Paterno, as the longtime Penn State trustee considers whether to run for re-election as an alumni representative.

The AccuWeather founder and prominent State College businessman stepped forward Friday to address the board and call for a statue at Penn State’s library in tribute to the men for whom the building is named, Paterno and Fred Pattee.

Pattee, who died in 1953, was an author and Penn State literature professor. He is best known for writing the lyrics to the university’s alma mater.

Paterno coached the Nittany Lions from 1966 until he was removed from the job when the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal hit in November 2011.

Paterno died two years ago Wednesday.

A statue of the late coach was removed from outside Beaver Stadium in July 2012, after he was accused in the Louis Freeh report of helping cover up Sandusky’s actions.

Since it was taken down, the statue has been hidden away.

“Now is the time for Penn State to come together as one community,” Myers said when calling for a new statue. “Now is the time to acknowledge that as long as we fight among ourselves, the world will pay more attention to our conflicts than they will to our accomplishments.”

Myers is among trustees who have been criticized by some alumni and others in the Penn State community for Paterno’s firing .

In each of the past two alumni elections, three newcomers have been voted onto the board, replacing individuals who were there in November 2011.

Myers says he hasn’t decided if he will seek re-election this May. We suspect he was at least testing the waters with his statements Friday.

Regardless, we do think it would be inappropriate at this time for a new Paterno statue — even at the library that continues to bear his name.

Any tributes to the former coach should wait until all legal battles have played out. The proceedings involving former officials Graham Spanier, Tim Curley and Gary Schultz are still active in the courts. Those three were implicated with Paterno in the Freeh findings.

We do hope to see the Penn State community continue to move beyond the scandal.

Myers was right about this: Many positive developments at the university have been overshadowed by controversy.

“Now is the time to celebrate the tremendous progress that Penn State is making in so many areas of teaching, academic research, service and intercollegiate athletics,” Myers said.

Yes it is, but not with another statue — at least not yet.

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