Phil Knight defended the late coach Joe Paterno's response to child sex allegations against Jerry Sandusky at a memorial service at Penn State.
The Nike founder and chairman Phil Knight received a standing ovation from the crowd of over 12,000 people, when he suggested that Joe Paterno wasn't the villain in the embarrassing sex abuse scandal.
Knight, a longtime friend of Paterno, cited the fact that Paterno gave full disclosure to his superiors, including head of campus police and president of the school, according to CBS Sports.
"The matter was in the hands of a world-class university, and by a president with an outstanding national reputation," Knight said. "Tthis much is clear to me. If there is a villain in this tragedy, it lies in that investigation and not in Joe Paterno."
His comments received a booming standing ovation from the crowd at Bryce Jordan Center, which included alumni, fans, students and former Penn State players. Knight also called Joe Paterno his hero.
Paterno's wife, Sue Paterno, was also recognized by the crowd and received sustained applause from the assembly. Former Penn State defensive coordinator and interim coach after Paterno's termination, Tom Bradley, and Paterno's son and quarterbacks coach, Jay Paterno, were among the crowd.
Jay Paterno told the crowd that his father left this world with a clear conscience and told the crowd of the words he shared with Paterno on his death bed.
"Dad, you won. You've done all you can do. We all love you. You won. You can go home now," Jay Paterno said.
Tickets for the memorial sold out seven minutes after they were made available, according to The Daily News.
Emotions from the Penn State campus have been mixed after the death of the winningest coach in college football history. Many are mourning, but many are also furious with the way the board of trustees fired Paterno by phone over child sex abuse allegations.
Kenny Jackson, a star receiver representing the Penn State players from the 90s, mentioned that Paterno never accepted praise, but today he had no choice.
"Joe never took a compliment, always deflected praise, never thought he was the show. But today, my teacher, you have no choice," Jackson said. "Today we are going to show you how much we love you."