“A Memorial to Joe” is what they called it.
Some 12,000 people flooded Penn State’s basketball arena for a campus memorial service Thursday honoring former football coach Joe Paterno. The day capped three days of mourning at the university for man who prided himself on “success with honor.”
“No one individual has ever done more for a university anywhere in the country than what Joe Paterno did for this school,” said former PSU quarterback Todd Blackledge.
The event lasted nearly 2 ½ hours, with most supporters choosing to highlight his many accomplishments — Paterno won more games (409) than any other coach in Division I history — rather than the Jerry Sandusky child-sex abuse scandal that led to his firing on Nov. 9. Nike chairman Phil Knight was the only person to directly reference the scandal, and he stood up for Paterno.
“Whatever the details of the [school’s] investigation are, this much is clear to me: If there is a villain in this tragedy, it lies in that investigation, not in Joe Paterno,” Knight said.
Those comments were greeted with a standing ovation from those in attendance, including Paterno’s widow, Sue, and the rest of his family seated in the front row. His son, Jay, gave the final eulogy.
“Joe Paterno left this world with a clear conscience,” he said.