Paterno was fired Nov. 9 after he was criticized for not going to police in 2002 when he was told that Sandusky had been seen sexually assaulting a boy in the showers. Sandusky was arrested in November and is awaiting trial on charges that he molested 10 boys over a 15-year span.
As the scandal erupted, Pennsylvania's state police commissioner said Paterno may have met his legal duty but not his moral one. Penn State president Graham Spanier was also fired in the fallout.
Knight, appearing about midway through the memorial, became the first speaker to explicitly address the scandal. He said the coach "gave full disclosure to his superiors, information that went up the chains to the head of the campus police and the president of the school. The matter was in the hands of a world-class university, and by a president with an outstanding national reputation."
Lanny J. Davis, an attorney for the board, responded after the service by saying: "All the reasons for the board's difficult and anguished decision — made unanimously, including former football players and everyone who still loves Coach Paterno and his memory — reached a decision which was heartfelt. All 32."
"The facts speak for themselves" and include the grand jury testimony, he said.
Chris Marrone, another former player who eulogized Paterno, said Knight was his "new hero" for expressing the "pent-up frustration" of Paterno's supporters.
"I think the response that he got is indicative of how folks feel," Marrone said.
Only one member of the university administration — the dean of the college of liberal arts — and no one from the board of trustees spoke at the memorial, which was arranged primarily by the Paterno family.
People said it felt good to remember and celebrate the good times.
Tennessee Titans coach Mike Munchak, who played for Paterno, said he attended the service "because I'm a part of his legacy."
"It was not only about football," Munchak said. "It was about life and how he affected all of us as men."
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