Penn State president seeking input on Paterno statue

Penn State University president Rodney Erickson listens during

Penn State University president Rodney Erickson listens during a board of trustees meeting at the school's Worthington Scranton campus. (July 13, 2012) (Credit: AP)

As emotions continue to swirl around Penn State's larger-than-life statue of Joe Paterno, the university president is methodically seeking input from trustees, alumni and others about the fate of the monument.

The statue has become a lightning rod since an investigation concluded the Hall of Fame football coach and other top university officials concealed child sex abuse allegations against former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky more than a decade ago.

President Rodney Erickson is expected to announce his decision next week.

Many of Paterno's supporters will be incensed if the bronze statue comes down. But critics say it would be unseemly to leave the statue in place in the wake of an internal investigation that found Paterno, ousted president Graham Spanier, athletic director Tim Curley and former vice president Gary Schultz covered up a 2001 allegation against Sandusky to shield the university from bad publicity.

Sandusky is awaiting sentencing after felony convictions of abuse involving 10 boys.

As he weighs its fate, Erickson must also consider how the NCAA will react if he leaves the statue outside Beaver Stadium. The governing body is investigating whether Penn State lost "institutional control" of its athletic program, and it could level harsh sanctions -- including a complete shutdown of the lucrative football program -- depending on the outcome.

In a conference call Thursday night, Penn State trustees asked Erickson for an update on the statue. Erickson said he is continuing his outreach, and he invited board members to share their thoughts with him, either on the call or privately, a trustee told The Associated Press.

On the same call, trustees learned that former board chairman Steve Garban had tendered his resignation.

Garban was harshly criticized over his handling of the Sandusky scandal, and last week's report by Louis Freeh significantly increased the pressure on him to resign with its revelation that Garban knew that Sandusky, Curley and Schultz were about to be charged, but failed to alert the entire board.

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