STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Nike founder and chairman Phil Knight got a standing ovation at Joe Paterno's public memorial Thursday for defending the late coach's response to an accusation of child sex abuse against a former assistant.

Speaking at a public memorial service, Knight said that, "If there is a villain in this tragedy, it lies in that investigation, and not in Joe Paterno's response."

The remark drew a standing ovation from the crowd of 12,000 — with Paterno's widow, Sue, and former defensive coordinator, Tom Bradley, among those rising to their feet.

Knight's comment seemed 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.

Knight also asked, "Who is the real trustee at Penn State University?"