JoePa statue items to 'dry out,' family to review
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP)
The dozens of signs, bouquets of flowers and other items left by fans at the Joe Paterno statue outside Penn State's Beaver Stadium in honor of the late Hall of Fame coach have been removed and stored inside the stadium to dry out.
University officials say the items were removed early Wednesday morning with the prior knowledge of Paterno's family. Penn State says the family will have a chance to review items to decide what to keep or donate.
Fans will still be allowed to leave more tributes. By midmorning Wednesday, a lone bright yellow daffodil rested at the base of the bronzed statue.
''We understand people want to do the right thing and we certainly appreciate their thoughts,'' said Paul Ruskin, a spokesman for the university's physical plant office. ''It could go on for quite a while.''
Paterno's son, Scott, in a tweet, thanked stadium employees for ''collecting and protecting the mementoes from the statue - hope to display them again someday.''
The statue turned into a makeshift memorial after Paterno died Jan. 22. The statue depicts Paterno in mid-stride, his right arm outstretched with his index finger pointed in the air.
Items left at the statue became damp after recent snowfall and showers.
At one point, an American flag was draped around the statue, with rosary beads fixed around the grip of the statue's bronzed left hand. It was surrounded by dozens of votive candles, along with Penn State memorabilia or signs.
Division I's winningest football coach with 409 victories over 46 seasons, Paterno died less than three months after school trustees ousted him Nov. 9 in the wake of child sex abuse charges against retired assistant Jerry Sandusky.
Sandusky is out on bail and awaiting trial after denying the allegations. Paterno testified before a grand jury investigating Sandusky, and authorities have said he was not a target of the probe.
Paterno's family announced he had lung cancer more than a week following his dismissal.
Penn State athletics has also said it will pay the costs of the public memorial service held last week for Paterno at the Jordan Center, the basketball arena across the street from Beaver Stadium. The bill was still being tabulated, an athletic department spokesman said.
Athletics relies mainly on revenues from the football program to support its budget. Officials have said athletics does not receive funding from tuition dollars or state appropriations.