July 17, 2012 / 5:55 PM / 7 years ago

Paterno alma mater removes name from sports award

(Reuters) - The fall from grace of the late legendary Penn State football coach Joe Paterno turned into a plunge on Tuesday.

An airplane tows a banner that reads "Take the Statue Down or We Will" as it flies over the Penn State campus in State College, Pennsylvania July 17, 2012. REUTERS/Nabil K. Mark/Centre Daily Times

Days after a blistering report accused Paterno of covering up the child sex abuse of assistant coach Jerry Sandusky to shield Penn State’s reputation, Paterno’s alma mater, Brown University in Providence, R.I., said it stripped his name from an annual athletic award.

On Penn State’s campus, members of a student group that manages a rallying spot for the Nittany Lions’ football games changed the spot’s name from “Paternoville” to “Nittanyville,” according to a statement by the Nittanyville Coordinating Committee.

And debate reached a fever pitch over whether to remove a 7-foot (2.1-meter) statue of Paterno outside Beaver Stadium at Penn State that hails him as the winner of more games than any other coach in the history of major-college football.

“Take the statue down or we will,” read a banner trailed by a small plane buzzing over State College, Pa., home of Penn State, a photograph posted on Twitter showed.

A report released last week by former FBI Director Louis Freeh accused Paterno and other Pennsylvania State University officials of failing for 14 years to protect children victimized by Sandusky.

Sandusky, 68, was arrested in November and convicted last month of sexually abusing 10 boys over 15 years. He faces up to 373 years in prison.

Brown eliminated a football coaching chair named after Paterno earlier this year “due to issues that predated the Penn State matter,” the university said in a statement.

It said his name was removed this spring from an award that has been given annually since 1991 to an outstanding male freshman athlete. The yearly honor had been named for Paterno, who graduated from the Ivy League school in 1950 and was inducted into the Brown Hall of Fame.

The change was made permanent on Tuesday.

“The director of athletics has now recommended and the university has approved the decision to remove permanently the Paterno name from the award,” the university said in a statement.

Paterno was fired by Penn State’s board in November shortly after Sandusky’s arrest. He died in January of lung cancer at age 85. His family, angered by the Freeh report, has said it will conduct its own probe of the scandal.

Additional reporting by Joseph O'Leary; Editing by Barbara Goldberg, Cynthia Osterman and Ciro Scotti

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