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Former Penn State players and coaches call for return of Joe Paterno statue

The statue of former Penn State coach Joe Paterno outside of Beaver Stadium was taken down in 2012 in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal, but some are pushing for its restoration.
(Gene J. Puskar / Associated Press)

More than 200 former Penn State football players and coaches have signed a strongly worded letter calling on the university to restore the statue of legendary coach Joe Paterno, which was removed from campus in the aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal.

“We have been told during the last four-plus years that the board and administration are waiting for the appropriate time to repair the damage they created,”  wrote former Nittany Lions tight end and punter Brian Masella, who penned the letter. “Now is the appropriate time. Enough is enough!

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“Our program has always been one of integrity, honesty, and respect. Under Coach Paterno, we strove for academic excellence and made an ongoing commitment to becoming better men. We deserve to have that respect reciprocated by Penn State and its leadership.”

Paterno was fired in 2011 after the Sandusky scandal broke. The legendary coach died two months later. Sandusky was convicted in June 2012 on 45 counts of child sexual abuse (he was granted an appeals hearing on the conviction in May).

As part of a number of punishments handed out, the NCAA took away 112 Penn State football wins, including 111 in games coached by Paterno. The university decided to remove a statue of the late coach from outside Beaver Stadium in July 2012.

Last year, the NCAA restored all of the wins back to the Nittany Lions, making Paterno once again the winningest coach in college football history. Now players from all seven decades Paterno coached the team – from Ronald Adams (1960s) to Alan Zemaitis (2000s) – signed the letter asking for the return of the statue as well as a formal apology to Paterno’s widow, Sue.

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“We remain saddened that the Penn State Administration and the Board of Trustees thrust our program and coach into an undeserved negative media frenzy in 2011,” the letter states. “Nearly five years after the firestorm, they still have not defended us or corrected the false narrative. Our legacy and our university deserve better.”

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