Penn State’s athletic department will pay the bill for the three days of public mourning events held last week for former head football coach Joe Paterno.
The university hasn’t yet calculated how much it cost to use and staff the facilities, said spokeswoman Lisa Powers. Once those costs are computed, the athletic department, which has its own budget and supports itself, will bear the costs, said athletics spokesman Jeff Nelson.
“The Paterno family engaged athletics for assistance with their plans and then we helped implement their wishes,” he said. “Coach Paterno was an (intercollegiate athletics) employee, so it made sense for athletics to take the lead on securing facilities and assisting with planning and logistics.” Nelson said the Paternos will pay for costs from the funeral home.
The costs will not be paid with tuition or public money, Powers said.
The events started with two days of private and public viewings last week at the Pasquerilla Spiritual Center that were attended by more than 40,000 people.
The Paterno family had a private funeral and Mass at the Pasquerilla Spiritual Center last Wednesday. The next day, more than 12,000 people attended a public memorial service at the Bryce Jordan Center.
Football staffer Guido D’Elia worked with the Paterno family on the content of the memorial service. D’Elia couldn’t be reached for comment.
The memorials last week won’t be the last tribute for Paterno. Penn State President Rodney Erickson has said publicly that the university will hold its own tribute to Paterno. Spokeswoman Annemarie Mountz said plans are still in the works.
“The university plans to honor Joe Paterno for his many contributions and to remember his remarkable life and legacy,” she said. “We are considering appropriate ways to do so. However, we have not yet had the opportunity to formulate any plans.”
Students and fans created their own makeshift memorial at the Paterno statue outside Beaver Stadium. There, they placed items like candles, flowers, footballs, Penn State clothing, and posters with salutes.
Penn State has removed the tribute items. A university spokeswoman said the they were collected with the knowledge of the Paterno family. They will be stored inside Beaver Stadium until the family can review them.
Mike Dawson can be reached at 231-4616.