Penn State University’s statue of legendary football coach Joe Paterno was removed from campus Sunday morning in the wake of an investigation that harshly criticized Paterno for failing to take action in the sex abuse case of his former assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky.
Penn State president Rodney Erickson issued a statement shortly before the statue was removed that said, “Coach Paterno’s statue has become a source of division and an obstacle to healing in our university and beyond. For that reason, I have decided that it is in the best interest of our university and public safety to remove the statue and store it in a secure location.”
The bronze statue, an image of Paterno running out of the locker room with his players in tow, was toppled onto its side and is being carried out by a forklift.
In response to the statue’s removal, Paterno’s family issued this statement: “Tearing down the statue of Joe Paterno does not serve the victims of Jerry Sandusky’s horrible crimes or help heal the Penn State Community. We believe the only way to help the victims is to uncover the full truth.”
The statement goes on to say that Paterno never had a hearing, and only selective evidence has been made public. The Freeh report, Paterno’s family says, is not the equivalent of a fair trial, although it has been accepted by the media as the definitive conclusion on the Sandusky scandal.
“It is not the University’s responsibility to defend or protect Joe Paterno. But they at least should have acknowledged that important legal cases are still pending and that the record on Joe Paterno, the Board and other key players is far from complete,” the statement reads.
Several fans of the late coach showed up with their rally cry, chanting, “We are Penn State.”
ABC News Radio contributed to this report.