More than 200 former Penn State football players are petitioning university leaders to return the bronze statue of Joe Paterno that stood outside the school's football stadium.

The statue of the late football coach was removed in 2012. That was after his former assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky, was convicted of child sexual abuse and an investigation accused Paterno and other former administrators of covering up complaints about Sandusky.

Paterno died after battling lung cancer in 2012.

The players sent a letter Tuesday to the board of trustees and Penn State President Eric Barron calling for the statue's return. The players also want an apology to Paterno's wife, Sue, and the restoration of the wall that stood behind the statue.

"We at least want the Penn State administration to stand up not only for football players and the football program, but for all of Penn State and the many alumni who want same thing," Brian Masella, former tight end and punter for the Nittany Lions, told The Tribune-Review.

Masella said the board and administration have said for years they would "repair the damage they created." He's said that time has come.

Masella told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette the players feel the board hasn't made much progress in restoring the legacy of the players, who he said committed no wrongdoing in the scandal.

University spokesman, Ben Manning, said there will be "a time and a place" to acknowledge Paterno's legacy.

Any plans to discuss the matter with the Paterno family would be done in private, he said.

The board of trustees plans to meet later this month.