(SP) – Penn State University has refused an offer from the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections to place the Joe Paterno statue that once stood outside Beaver Stadium in an 8-by-10-foot cell at one of the prisons in the commonwealth. Officials had offered the spot to the statue because “it’s where Joe Paterno would be today if he had been fortunate to live,” said a prosecutor who helped convict the three other university administrators who did not die before trial.

Penn State officials say they did seriously consider the offer, believing that if the statue served time, perhaps the general public would be more forgiving of plans to re-install the statue in front of the on-campus stadium. But the offer was denied after the university and it’s board of directors did not want to appear to admit that the school’s former football coach did anything wrong.

“Joe Paterno was a great coach who was even better in his personal life and never made any mistakes,” said Penn State athletic director Sandy Barbour, who organized a special ceremony honoring Paterno at a football game last season. “He does not belong in prison and his statue is without blame, as well. To my mind, the only places that statue should go other than outside our stadium is on Mount Rushmore or in the clouds with the holy angels.”

Prosecutors hoped their offer of 409 days in prison for the statue would resonate with Penn State, but are not surprised by the answer they received.

“We hoped that they would like the idea of people being able to see the statue again,” said a state attorney. “Of course, they could only see it during visiting hours, which are between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturdays. But still, it would have been something.”

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