Penn State Takes Down Paterno Statue, Prepares for NCAA Sanctions

Jeff Swensen/Getty Images(STATE COLLEGE, Pa.) -- The statue of Penn State football coach Joe Paterno was removed from outside the university’s football stadium on Sunday, just hours before the NCAA said it would announce its punishment for the school over the reported cover-up of child sexual abuse by former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.

Workers erected a blue tarp to keep cameras from recording the removal of the statue of the iconic coach whose image was shattered by investigators’ allegations that he was involved in covering up the abuse.

The NCAA said on Sunday it was preparing to announce “corrective and punitive measures” against Penn State.  ESPN has learned those penalties will be significant, including the loss of bowl appearances and several scholarships, which could be more damaging than a full one-year suspension of the football program.

Early Sunday morning, workers put up a tarp-covered fence around the statue of the famed football coach.  Plastic sheeting and blankets were wrapped around the likeness of Paterno.  Then came the sound of jackhammers ripping apart the base so a forklift could carry the statue away as the university deals with the stain of scandal.  

Not everyone was happy, but University President Rodney Ericson said in a statement that leaving the statue would be, “a recurring wound … an obstacle to healing … a lightning rod of controversy.”

The Penn State library will continue to carry Paterno’s name.

Revelations in a report by former FBI Director Louis Freeh show that Paterno had been told, even before the statue was erected, that his defensive coordinator, Sandusky, was sexually abusing boys.

On Monday morning, NCAA President Mark Emmert will announce sanctions against Penn State.  ESPN College Football Reporter Joe Schad says the penalties will be extraordinary.

“He (Emmert) wants everybody to understand that in extraordinary situations such as this, that an egregious failure to action took place, that he will step up, that he will make a decision that lets people understand that Penn State’s situation can never happen again,” Schad said.

This is a unique situation because NCAA bylaws don’t cover what happened at Penn State.  So, Schad said, Emmert went to the board of trustees of the NCAA for authority to levy penalties.  Emmert, according to Schad, “found a way to do something that they felt needed to be done, to do something that they felt would create at least some semblance of justice in a situation that was so horrific.”

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