Two Penn State alumni are leading the charge to erect a new statue honoring late and former head football coach Joe Paterno.
The alumni and coordinators of the project, Kim Intorre and Ted Sebastianelli, received approval from the Borough of State College to install the new life-sized bronze sculpture roughly two miles from where the original stood and just across the street from Penn State’s main campus.
However the exact location hasn’t been confirmed. According to Penn State’s official student newspaper The Daily Collegian, Intorre and Sebastianelli have said the statue will be placed in a brick alley adjacent to a restaurant called The Tavern but the owner would not confirm his establishment as the location.
“I’m supportive [of the project] but don’t want to interfere with the [State College Borough],” said owner of The Tavern Pat Daugherty. “I was a little unprepared [for the reports] and I haven’t talked to the joint property owner yet.”
Daugherty also reportedly said he would support the project no matter the location.
The proposed new statue will cost roughly $300,000, and it is expected to show Paterno sitting on a bench reading Virgil’s “Aeneid”. According to ESPN, artist Zenos Frudakis has been commissioned to build the statue and Intorre and Sebastianelli hope to raise $50,000 for the project on fundraising Web site Kickstarter beginning in July.
Titled “Joe’s Bench,” the coordinators hope the statue will be installed in the fall of 2015, and it’s intended to show Paterno as a man of the State College community and not a football coach.
Paterno’s original bronze statue depicted the coach running out of a tunnel with his players in tow, but it was removed from outside Beaver Stadium in July 2012.
"We just felt that the university was not ready yet" to honor Paterno, Intorre said to ESPN. "But the community is."
Paterno was fired in November 2011 after questions arose as to how he handled child abuse allegations weighed against former assistant and defensive coach Jerry Sandusky.
In June 2012 Sandusky, 70, was convicted of sexually assaulting 10 boys over the course of 15 years. He was later sentenced to 30-60 years in prison and is expected to spend the rest of his life behind bars.
As a result Penn State’s image as one of the most storied and loved colleges and football programs in history was shattered. The NCAA levied heavy, almost crippling, sanctions against the football program including a $60 million fine and a ban from postseason play for four years, and forced the school to vacate 112 wins between the 1998 and 2011 seasons.
The State College community is still recovering from the scandal, but there are many who believe Paterno should still be honored for his more than 60 years of service to the university.
“We don’t have to wait for anything,” Sebastianelli, a candidate for Penn State’s Board of Trustees, said to PennLive.com. “It’s sad. It’s really sad that this university has failed to honor someone who spent 61 years and done such tremendous things for the university.”
Paterno died in January 2012 at the age of 85 with the all-time record of 409 career victories, but that was before the sanctions were levied by the NCAA.