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 statue off its base and used a forklift to move it into Beaver Stadium as 100 to 150 students watched and chanted, "We are Penn State."

The university announced early 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.

Paterno's family has vehemently denied any suggestion that he protected a pedophile.

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

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

The statue, nearly 7 feet tall and 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."