Penn State has a long, difficult road ahead in response to the revelations of the Freeh Report, one that will pit the university against civil lawsuits, the Department of Education, the NCAA and its own demons. For now, though, they're starting with the symbols.
Saturday, two days after the report detailed the extent of Paterno's involvement in ignoring and/or covering up multiple allegations of sexual assault against longtime defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky, a State College artist painted out a halo over Paterno's head on a mural depicting local humanitarians. Sunday, the university's Board of Trustees made clear that it may still decide to remove a statue of Paterno outside of Beaver Stadium. And today, a group of students who organize a makeshift tent city before home games – known since 2005 as "Paternoville" – announced that its changing its name:
UNIVERSITY PARK, PA - The officially-recognized student group that manages the encampment of Penn State students outside Beaver Stadium for home football games has changed its name to "Nittanyville."
As such, the group -- one of more than 900 student organizations under the Office of Student Affairs -- will be known as the "Nittanyville Coordination Committee." "This is a decision undertaken by and made solely by the Penn State student officers," said president Troy Weller, a Penn State senior. … "Now, it's a new era of Nittany Lion football. And by changing the name to Nittanyville we want to return the focus to the overall team and the thousands of students who support it. We thank the Paterno family for their gracious assistance and support over the last several years.""
The encampment tradition began in 1993, Penn State's first year in the Big Ten, when students began lining up days in advance for tickets on a first-come, first-serve basis. Eventually, the tent city was named for the legendary coach, who would occasionally show up with pizza for the crowd, mingle and sign autographs; the official student organization that formed to help keep the mass from becoming a mob in 2006 took on the name for itself. Otherwise, nothing else at the site will change this year, save possibly the overall enthusiasm of revelers. (Predictably, a few Facebook commenters are not happy about the change, but even in the rage-stoking corners of the Internet, cooler heads appear to be in the vast majority.) A portion of proceeds from the encampment will be donated to new Center for the Protection of Children, to which the university has already pledged $1.1 million since announcing its creation in December.
It's a modest start, to be sure: After 46 mostly deified seasons as championship coach, unofficial ambassador and all-purpose mahatma, Paterno's fingerprint is everywhere in State College, from the the library he helped build to the famous ice cream flavor that bears his name in the campus creamery. If Paternoville was the first institution to strike its namesake from the record, obviously it is not going to be the last.