“The JoePas” are no more.
The all-male a cappella group formerly known as “The JoePas” joined organizations such as Nittanyville, Nike, and Penn State itself in their cutting of ties with the condemned former coach, formally announcing a name change to “The Statesmen” on August 24.
The group’s musical director, Jim Hogan, offered a tidbit on organizations cutting references to Paterno from their names, saying that “every group and organization has their own reason for why they chose to use the Paterno name.” Thus, going along with Jim’s point, it’s important to first examine the origins of “The Statesmen” to understand why exactly they decided to eschew their former name, “The JoePas.”
During August of last year, Hogan and three fellow musical theatre majors sought to fill the void of all-male a cappella groups at Penn State, settling on an identity modeled after the Paterno ideal, “Success with Honor”. The “JoePas” were thus born, dressed identically in homage to Paterno’s classic sideline attire, performing Penn State classics on the sidewalks of State College. The fledgling a cappella group enjoyed early success, placing second in the semi-finals of the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella and recently recording an album to be released in December.
However, despite their name and their style of dress, the a capella group was never about the idolization of Joe Paterno; rather—according to Hogan—the choice of name was more to symbolize the amount of pride the members had for Penn State.
“We called ourselves the JoePas because we felt that his constantly used phrase, ‘Success with Honor’, could be embodied musically for the pride that we had in our university, that we still have in our university,” said Hogan.
In fact, Hogan told us that people already had mixed opinions of the name well before the Freeh Report surfaced. “There were going to be supporters and detractors of Joe Paterno in terms of what some thought of as an idolization even before [the Freeh Report]came out,” said Hogan.
Of course, after all hell broke loose with the release of the Freeh Report, it was important for the group to reconsider their name. According to Hogan, the decision to change names was reached jointly by all 12 members, a decision that the best move was to move forward with the rest of the university.
The group’s new name, “The Statesmen,” was actually conceived before the Freeh Report, according to Hogan, and came into fruition given the trying circumstances of the last few months. If anything, the name might fit their original mission better than The JoePas ever did—‘State’ of course refers to their Penn State pride, and ‘men’ to the group’s decision to expand the presence of all-male a cappella groups here at State.
And, if anything, The Statesmen’s decision to change their name is another reminder of how our university both embodies and transcends the individuals that helped make “Dear Old State”.