STATE COLLEGE — With his face on T-shirts, mugs and posters — heck, even masks and bobbleheads — Joe Paterno might be among the most merchandised man in the country.
But not for much longer, at least as far as Penn State is concerned. The university says it will no longer license the famous head coach's name or image, giving manufacturers 60 days to make as much memorabilia as they can before closing up shop.
Retail stores are allowed to sell JoePa merchandise until their stock runs out. Store owners said they've been told Paterno will still be able to license his name himself, but he can't associate it with Penn State.
The announcement, delivered in a letter Nov. 28, has retailers scrambling to grab as much as they can before the deadline. Paterno remains popular among many Pennsylvanians, a new poll shows.
"We will probably get more of the things and build up a stock," said John Lindo, general manager of the Student Book Store in downtown State College. "For sales, it's not a huge number usually, but in the last couple of weeks it's been significant."
Paterno was fired last month by the university's board of trustees after authorities accused former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky of molesting eight children over 15 years, with some incidents allegedly taking place in football facilities. President Graham Spanier stepped down, and administrators Tim Curley and Gary Schultz both face charges of perjury and failure to report.
Until November, Paterno enjoyed a sterling reputation in college football. That changed after a grand jury report revealed he was notified of a 2002 incident and passed it to his superiors, but never notified police.
A poll out Friday shows Paterno remains popular among many Pennsylvanians, although most agree with the school's recent decision to fire him. The Quinnipiac University survey found 52 percent of those surveyed supported Paterno's dismissal and 43 percent opposed the move.
But 44 percent still have a favorable opinion of Paterno despite outrage he didn't take strong enough action after a graduate assistant came to him claiming he saw Sandusky raping a boy in a shower at the school's football facilities.
More people, 74 percent, said they approved of Spanier's departure, and 13 percent disapproved.
"Pennsylvania voters have more love for the legendary football coach than for Graham Spanier, but they agree that Joe must go," Tim Malloy, a Quinnipiac pollster, said in a released statement.
JoePa items have always been a reliable seller, if never topping the Nittany Lion or Penn State logo in popularity. His departure during the Sandusky child abuse scandal has only inspired more merchandising, as clothiers flood the market with T-shirts saluting his 46-year run as Penn State's head coach.
"Coach Paterno, only one thing: Thank you," read one T-shirt on sale at the Student Book Store.
But his likeness extends further. He's modeled for "Stand-up Joe," a life-sized cardboard cutout that can be found in dorm rooms across Penn State. His face graces "Joegies," a sandwich shop at Penn State's student union.
He's even been transformed into a limited-edition Christmas ornament at George's Floral Boutique, a few blocks from the bookstore. They're the last of their kind, store owner Mitch Ballas said.
"We were hoping to make more when he retired," he said, looking over the miniature Paterno. "Now that's gone."
Two-thirds of those polled said they think football has too much influence at Penn State, the Quinnipiac survey found. But the same number of respondents had no problem with Penn State accepting an invitation to a postseason bowl game.
A large majority of those polled, 85 percent, said they have been closely following news about the Penn State case.
Those polled split 38-36 percent in their approval of the way Gov. Tom Corbett handled the Sandusky case. Corbett was attorney general when state investigators got the case, and some have questioned why charges were not filed earlier.
By a narrow margin, 48-42 percent, those polled say the state should not financially compensate the alleged victims if Sandusky is found guilty.