NIKE chairman Phil Knight wasn't afraid to bring up what some considered the elephant in the room, that Joe Paterno was fired as a result of the child sex abuse allegations against Jerry Sandusky.
"There was a villain in this tragedy, it lies in that investigation, not in Joe Paterno's response to it," Phil Knight, NIKE founder and chairman said.
University trustees say that Joe Paterno was fired because he didn't do more to alert authorities. But Knight defended Paterno.
"In the year in question, he gave full disclosure to his superiors up the chain to head of campus police and president of the school. The matter was in the hands of a world class university and by a president with an outstanding national reputation," Knight said.
Students watching the speech inside the HUB liked that Knight spoke up.
"He deserved that, he absolutely deserved that. I think it was really good to hear somebody else, outside of the Penn State community finally defend Joe Paterno. Here in State College, we haven't really heard that," Brandon Cwalina, a current Penn State student said.
"He told the chain of commands and the whole ordeal, he really did what he was obligated to do. I think the fault really goes down on the president, he is supposed to be leading our school into the right direction," Emma Semanyk, a current Penn State student said.
Earlier this week, WTAJ spoke to a trustee about the decision to fire Paterno.
"Unfortunately this was a decision that had to be made. That being said, how terrible that it was a decision that had to be made because of a backdrop of something that none of us can digest," Marian Barash Coppersmith, a emeriti trustee said.
As for Knight's remarks, he got a standing ovation.
"Who is the real trustee at Penn State University?"
Knight said Paterno never complained or lashed out about what happened, he just continued to support Penn State.
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