Donald Trump made reference during a Wednesday rally to the late former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno.
“How’s Joe Paterno?” Trump asked the crowd at a rally in Pittsburgh. “Are we going to bring that back, right? How about that whole deal?”
Paterno, the longtime coach of the university’s football team, was fired in 2011 amid a child sex abuse scandal involving Jerry Sandusky, his former assistant coach. Two months later, Paterno died after battling cancer.
Paterno’s statue was removed from the Penn State campus in 2012, after a university-commissioned report accused Paterno of covering up claims about Sandusky. (Paterno’s family has denied those claims.)
A Trump campaign spokesperson later said the GOP frontrunner was referring to the statue in his earlier comment, which came amid a riff in which he attempted to display the depth of his knowledge about Pennsylvania.
Paterno’s firing and the removal of his statue is still viewed as unjust by many Penn State fans.
“And we do love Penn State, do we love Penn State? I mean, in all fairness,” Trump said later in the rally.
Many in the crowd appeared to groan at that remark. While Penn State is loved by some Pittsburghers, allegiance to the University of Pittsburgh, a top rival of Penn State, is more closely tied to the community.
“We love Penn State, but we love Pittsburgh, right?” Trump said in response to the mixed reception.