Penn State adds plan to mark Paterno debut; sparks fury online

STATE COLLEGE, Pa.  — Penn State’s athletic department has announced plans to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Joe Paterno’s first game as coach, a move that sparked backlash on social networks by people critical of Paterno’s role in the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.

The university announced plans Thursday to mark the anniversary when the Nittany Lions football team hosts Temple on Sept. 17.

University spokesman Jeff Nelson told The Associated Press that Penn State plans to announce specifics of the commemoration to ticket holders during the week of the game. He declined further comment on the plans.

Paterno coached at Penn State for 46 seasons, becoming college football’s winningest coach. But the coach was fired by the school’s board of trustees shortly after Sandusky, who was his defensive coordinator, was arrested in November 2011 for child sexual abuse. Paterno died in January 2012 of lung cancer.

The announcement to honor Paterno’s first game was met with disdain on social media sites from those who partially blame Paterno for the scandal.

In May, unsealed court documents said an alleged Sandusky victim said he complained to Paterno about Sandusky in 1976 and was rebuffed. The university’s president has said the allegation was not substantiated in court or tested by any other process.