- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 24, 2012

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. Decked out in Penn State hats and jackets, students and townspeople stood in a line more than a quarter-mile long Tuesday to pay their respects to Joe Paterno, the coach who for nearly a half century was the face of their university but whose final days were clouded by a sex scandal that rocked his program.

Mourners stood in a line along a main campus artery for the chance to file past Mr. Paterno’s closed casket at the campus spiritual center during a 10-hour public viewing session.

They were preceded by Paterno family members the coach’s son, Scott, was seen going in and out of the event and the Penn State football team, both present and past. Players wore dark suits and filed out of three blue Penn State buses, the same buses that once carried Paterno and the team to games at Beaver Stadium on fall Saturdays.

Among that group was Mike McQueary. As a graduate assistant to Mr. Paterno in 2002, he went to the coach saying he had witnessed former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky assaulting a boy in the shower at the Penn State football building.


Mr. Paterno relayed that to his bosses, including the head of campus police, but university trustees felt he should have done more, and it played into their decision to fire the longtime coach on Nov. 9. That came four days after Mr. Sandusky was arrested on multiple child sex-abuse counts.

Dressed in a blue coat and tie with a white shirt, the school colors, Mr. McQueary was among thousands of expected mourners at an event that was to stretch late into Tuesday night.

One current and one former team member will stand watch over the casket for the duration of the public viewing, athletic department spokesman Jeff Nelson said.

The 85-year-old Mr. Paterno, the winningest coach in major college football, died Sunday. The cause, lung cancer, was disclosed in November, just days after he was fired.

In another sign for his stature on campus and off, more than 10,000 free tickets that were made available to the public for a memorial service were snapped up in seven minutes Tuesday, with some offered for sale on eBay before the site pulled those ads.

The service will be held Thursday at the school’s 16,000-seat basketball arena, the Bryce Jordan Center. It will also be broadcast live on cable TV’s Big Ten Network and streamed live on the channel’s companion website and the Penn State athletics site.

Scott Paterno has said that despite the turmoil surrounding his termination from the school, his father remained peaceful and upbeat in his final days.

Bitterness over Mr. Paterno’s firing has turned up in many forms, from online postings to a rewritten newspaper headline placed next to Mr. Paterno’s statue at the football stadium blaming the school trustees for his death. Lanny Davis, lawyer for the school’s board, said threats have been made against the trustees.

Scott Paterno, however, stressed that his father did not die of a broken heart and did not harbor resentment of Penn State.