Joe Paterno’s legacy remains a very controversial subject, but that hasn’t stopped one Pennsylvania lawmaker from campaigning to have a bridge named after the longtime Penn State football coach.
According to PennLive.com, Pennsylvania state Rep. Michael Regan is planning to introduce a bill to rename a bridge over the Susquehanna River on the Pennsylvania Turnpike as the Joseph V. Paterno Memorial Bridge. The bill would have to pass the state House and Senate and then be signed by Gov. Tom Wolf.
Regan hasn’t formally introduced the bill. However, he sent out a letter last week to potential co-sponsors, stating his intent to “honor the football career of Joe Paterno” by the renaming of the bridge.
Paterno’s place in the history of Penn State and Pennsylvania has been clouded by his links to the Jerry Sandusky child-abuse scandal. Paterno died in January 2012, two months after he was fired by Penn State in the fallout over the arrest of Sandusky, one of his former assistant coaches, on child sexual abuse charges.
Sandusky was later convicted on 45 counts of sexual abuse and sentenced to at least 30 years in prison. An investigation conducted by former FBI Director Louis Freeh concluded that Paterno tried to hide information regarding Sandusky’s involvement with young boys. Paterno’s family and his supporters dismissed the findings and criticized Freeh’s methodology.
The NCAA initially vacated 111 wins from Paterno’s record tally of 409 career coaching victories as part of sanctions levied against the university. In January, the NCAA reinstated Paterno’s wins.
Since the NCAA’s decision, there has been talk of restoring tributes to Paterno that were taken down at Penn State in the aftermath of his firing. There are some supporters calling for the return of a 7-foot statue of Paterno that was removed from its spot outside Beaver Stadium in 2012.