Posted: Jan 27, 2012 1:30 AM by Lee Douglas
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - A capacity crowd of more than 12,000 packed a Penn State arena for one more tribute to Joe Paterno, the Hall of Fame football coach who died Sunday at age 85 from lung cancer.
There have been tears, laughter and rousing applause as Nitanny Lions players from every decade that Paterno coached addressed the huge crowd of alumni, students, fans and Paterno's family in the
event simply entitled "A Memorial for Joe."
Nike founder and chairman Phil Knight got a standing ovation for defending the late coach's response to an accusation of child sex abuse against a former assistant. In his remarks, Knight said that, "If there is a villain in this tragedy, it lies in that investigation, and not in Joe Paterno's response."
His comment seems to refer to Paterno's failure to alert anyone beyond his superiors at the school when he was told of a sex abuse allegation against former assistant Jerry Sandusky. That inaction was a major reason university trustees fired him on Nov. 9, less than three months before his death.
The memorial caps three days of public mourning for a figure beloved for his success on the sideline as well as his generosity off the field.