Obama backs Penn State decision to remove Paterno statue

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Carney, when first asked about the issue, said he did not know the president's stance and said he would ask Obama. 

"I know he feels very strongly about the events and about the failure of the institution in what should always be a primary responsibility, which is protecting children," he said.

The university decided to take down a statue of the former coach after an investigation by former Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Louis Freeh found last week that Paterno and others at the university shielded allegations that assistant coach Jerry Sandusky abused young children. 

Sandusky was found guilty last month of abusing 10 boys and is awaiting sentencing.

In November, Penn State fired Paterno, who had coached the school's Nittany Lions for 46 years and holds the NCAA Division I record for most coaching victories. Paterno died of complications from cancer  in January.