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posted: 7/17/2012 2:04 PM

Name-dropping: More distance themselves from JoePa

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  • A visitor points to the spot in a mural by Michael Pilato where a halo that was above the late Penn State football coach Joe Paterno has been painted over by the artist in State College, Pa., Saturday.

      A visitor points to the spot in a mural by Michael Pilato where a halo that was above the late Penn State football coach Joe Paterno has been painted over by the artist in State College, Pa., Saturday.
    ASSOCIATED PRESS

 
Associated Press

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Joe Paterno's name is losing its luster, whether it's the tent city outside Beaver Stadium where students camp out for prime football tickets or the name associated with his alma mater's football coach job.

"Paternoville" is out, swapped for "Nittanyville" on Monday. So respected was Paterno that another university -- Brown, the late coach's alma mater -- had attached his name to its coaching job. That too ended.

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In a matter of months, the once unimpeachable Paterno name has become an albatross to be shed rather than an honor. The tainted reputation results from a scathing report by former FBI director Louis Freeh that concluded Paterno helped cover up child sex abuse allegations against former assistant Jerry Sandusky.

It's even tarnished the bronze statue of Paterno that had been a rallying point for students in the months since Sandusky's November arrest touched off a scandal as notable for its breathtaking allegations as its place: Happy Valley.

On Tuesday, a small plane pulled a banner over State College reading, "Take the statue down or we will."

Nike took Paterno's name off a child care center on its corporate campus on Thursday, the same day the Freeh report was released. Company founder Phil Knight -- whose rousing defense of Paterno at a memorial service after his death drew thunderous applause -- said in statement that "it appears Joe made missteps that led to heartbreaking consequences. I missed that Joe missed it."

The halo that had floated above Paterno's head in a State College mural was removed Saturday. In its place the artist added a blue ribbon in support of child abuse awareness.

And a Connecticut middle school said it would paint over its own mural of Paterno.

Although there was some negative reaction to Paterno immediately after Sandusky's arrest -- the Big Ten dropped Paterno's name from the conference championship trophy where it had been next to that of Amos Alonzo Stagg, who won almost 100 fewer games -- the pace has picked up since the Freeh report was released.

The Paterno statue outside Beaver Stadium has been a point of much contention. Critics have called for the statue to be taken down after the Freeh report concluded that Paterno was aware of a 1998 allegations against Sandusky -- in contrast to his grand jury testimony and an interview given after his firing -- and that he was involved in the decision to not report a 2001 incident to the authorities even after his superiors had decided to.

The Freeh report raised the culpability of Paterno and former university President Graham Spanier to the same level as two other key figures: former Vice President Gary Schultz and athletic director Tim Curley.

Both Schultz and Curley await trial on charges of perjury and failure to report suspected child abuse. A judge on Monday set an Aug. 16 court date for oral arguments on pretrial motions.

Spanier is not charged.

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