STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — More than 10,000 free tickets made available to the public for a memorial service for Penn State football coach Joe Paterno were snapped up in seven minutes Tuesday, with some offered for sale on eBay before the site pulled those ads.
The service will be held Thursday at the school's basketball arena, the Bryce Jordan Center. It will also be broadcast live on cable TV's Big Ten Network and streamed live on the channel's companion website and the Penn State athletics site.
Paterno, the winningest coach in major college football, died of cancer Sunday at age 85. He had been fired about two months earlier, with trustees saying he did not meet a moral obligation to report to police allegations that his former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky had molested a boy.
But coverage plans, the long lines at a public visitation and the demand for memorial tickets were stark evidence of Paterno's appeal despite the child sex abuse scandal, which also toppled two high-ranking university officials.
After Paterno was fired, he described the scandal as one of the great sorrows of his life and said he wished he had done more after allegations against Sandusky were raised. Sandusky has maintained his innocence, acknowledging he showered with boys but saying he never molested them.
The Paterno memorial service tickets were offered first-come, first-served to the public through the athletics website, with a limit of two per person. An athletic department spokesman said a capacity crowd of more than 12,000 is expected.
Amanda Coffee, spokeswoman for eBay Inc., said the site has unspecified internal controls to remove inappropriate ads. She said eBay doesn't "allow the sale of tickets to events in which all tickets are free to the public" and yanked ads seeking money for tickets to the memorial.
Emily Ricken, a 20-year-old Penn State anthropology major from Altoona, said she was on her computer at 9 a.m. and got two memorial service tickets that she would never sell.
"I think it's absolutely repulsive that people are taking an event that's supposed to be a celebration of life and trying to use it for monetary profit," she said Tuesday, waiting in line with hundreds of others to walk past Paterno's closed casket at a campus spiritual center.
Classes have not been canceled, though the university said in a statement that Provost Rob Pangborn has left it up to instructors if they want to reschedule classes in recognition of students who might attend or watch the service.
Mandak reported from Pittsburgh. Associated Press writer Genaro C. Armas contributed to this report.
Penn State athletics: http://www.gopsusports.com