TIME College football

Penn State’s Joe Paterno Tribute Met With Standing Ovation and Protest

Some in the crowd turned their backs in protest

A controversial tribute to former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno on Saturday was met with a standing ovation by some, while others in the stadium crowd turned their backs in protest.

At Saturday’s football game against Temple, Penn State honored the 50th anniversary of Paterno’s first game as head coach—a tribute that received strong criticism because of Paterno’s role in a sex abuse scandal at the university, ESPN reported.

Paterno, who was the head football coach for 46 years, was accused of turning a blind eye to former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky’s child sex abuse scandal. Paterno, who was not charged with a crime related to the scandal, was fired after Sandusky’s arrest, and he died in 2012.

“Before he became head coach in 1966, Joe Paterno spoke about recruiting more football players who were exceptional students,” a stadium announcer said, while a highlight video played on scoreboards, the Associated Press reported. “He was determined to bring to Penn State students who could earn a world-class education and graduate and play football at the highest level.”

While Paterno is still revered by many die-hard Penn State fans, critics have argued it is insensitive for the university to continue to celebrate his role on campus.

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