Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump tried to appeal to Pennsylvania State University fans at a rally in Pittsburgh Wednesday night by mentioning legendary former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno.
“How’s Joe Paterno? We’re gonna bring that back? Right? How about that whole deal?” Trump said invoking Paterno, who died in 2012.
Trump, who made the comments before a raucous crowd, then turned his attention back to the university.
“We do love Penn State. Do we love Penn State?” he said to cheers.
A campaign spokesperson said Trump was referring to the statue of Paterno on campus, that was taken down after his former assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky was convicted of child molestation in 2012.
In November 2011, a grand jury report said officials at Penn State failed to notify law enforcement after learning about some of the allegations. Paterno subsequently announced his intent to retire at the end of the season, but hours later, university trustees said Paterno – and university president Graham Spanier – were fired, effective immediately.
Penn State had five undefeated seasons under Paterno, also known as “JoePa.” In 2012, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) ruled that Penn State must vacate all football wins from 1998-2011. In 2015, the NCAA restored 112 of the team’s wins. Some Penn State alumni have been trying to restore the coach’s statue.