Penn State takes down Joe Paterno statue

Workers from Penn State's Office of Physical Plant cover the statue of former football coach Joe Paterno near Beaver Stadium on Penn State's campus in State College, Pa., on Sunday, July 22, 2012. The university announced Sunday that it was taking down the monument in the wake of an investigative report that found the late coach and three other top Penn State administrators concealed sex abuse claims against retired assistant coach Jerry Sandusky. AP Photo/Centre Daily Times, Christopher Weddle

Last Updated 9:10 a.m. ET

(AP) STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - The famed statue of Joe Paterno was taken down from outside the Penn State football stadium Sunday, eliminating a key piece of the iconography surrounding the once-sainted football coach accused of burying child sex abuse allegations against a retired assistant.

Workers lifted the 7-foot-tall statue off its base and used a forklift to move it into Beaver Stadium as the 100 to 150 students watching chanted, "We are Penn State."

The university announced earlier Sunday that it was taking down the monument in the wake of an investigative report that found the late coach and three other top Penn State administrators concealed sex abuse claims against retired assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.

The statue, weighing more than 900 pounds, was built in 2001 in honor of Paterno's record-setting 324th Division 1 coaching victory and his "contributions to the university."

A spokeswoman for the Paterno family didn't immediately return phone and email messages.

Construction vehicles and police arrived shortly after dawn Sunday, barricading the street and sidewalks near the statue, erecting a chain-link fence then concealing the statue with a blue tarp.

Penn State President Rod Erickson said he decided to have the statue removed and put into storage because it "has become a source of division and an obstacle to healing."

"I believe that, were it to remain, the statue will be a recurring wound to the multitude of individuals across the nation and beyond who have been the victims of child abuse," Erickson said in a statement released at 7 a.m. Sunday.

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He said Paterno's name will remain on the campus library because it "symbolizes the substantial and lasting contributions to the academic life and educational excellence that the Paterno family has made to Penn State University."

The statue's sculptor, Angelo Di Maria, said it was upsetting to hear that the statue had been taken down.

"It's like a whole part of me is coming down. It's just an incredibly emotional process," Di Maria said.

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