STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Joe Paterno’s family said Monday the legendary football coach will get a two-day viewing and a public memorial this week on the Penn State campus, two months after the university fired him over the phone.
The family gave no details on who might be invited or asked to speak at the memorial Thursday at the basketball arena, which can hold 16,000. Penn State spokeswoman Lisa Powers said the specifics were still being worked out with the Paternos.
Many alumni and students say Paterno was treated shabbily by the Board of Trustees in November, and trustees and other members of the administration might not be made to feel welcome.
“I don’t think it’s going to be heavily laden with administration and trustees,” said trustee Linda Strumpf, who lives in New York and will not attend. “This is something the family is putting together and not the university. I don’t think the university wants to be in a position to tell them what a memorial service looks like.”
Trustee Al Clemens said he will be there to honor a man he described as a good friend.
“This is really a family thing, and so we’re just going to go as individuals,” Clemens said. “Joe’s a great guy. No matter what the situation was in the last two months, it doesn’t take away from what he’s done through history for so many people. He’s just been tremendous.”
The viewing will be held today and Wednesday at a campus spiritual center, followed by a private funeral Wednesday. The public memorial at the Jordan Center is expected to draw thousands.
Michael Day, a 1973 Penn State graduate whose father taught there and whose four children all have Penn State degrees, said the trustees were wrong to fire Paterno and he believes they will be replaced. He said he hopes they don’t attend.
“I think the Penn State community is separate from the Penn State Board of Trustees,” he said. “The Board of Trustees has separated itself from the Penn State community, and the Penn State community loves Joe Paterno and always will.”
Paterno was fired Nov. 9 after he was criticized over his handling of child sex-abuse allegations leveled against former assistant Jerry Sandusky in 2002.
President Obama spoke Monday with Paterno’s wife and son to offer his condolences, the White House said.