STATE COLLEGE, Pennsylvania A key figure in the Penn State University sex abuse scandal was placed on administrative leave on Friday, as officials scrambled to contain the damage from shocking allegations of child rape that have rocked the campus in the last week.
The university may even see its borrowing costs rise in the coming months after a credit agency said it may consider downgrading Penn State's debt rating.
The scandal has already led to the firing of Joe Paterno, the revered coach who led the university's football team, the Nittany Lions, for 46 years, and the university's president.
One of Paterno's sons confirmed that his father, who has not been charged in the case, had hired J. Sedgwick "Wick" Sollers, a prominent Washington criminal defense lawyer.
Sollers, of King & Spalding, has in the past represented former president George H.W. Bush.
Paterno "wants very much to speak publicly and answer questions. At this stage, however, he has no choice but to be patient and defer to the legal process," Scott Paterno said in an emailed statement.
Also on Friday, the university put linebacker coach Mike McQueary on paid administrative leave.
McQueary had testified to a grand jury that he saw former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky rape a boy in the showers at a campus locker room in 2002 and said he reported what he saw to Paterno.
The university had said "multiple threats" had been made against McQueary.
As the scandal exploded over the normally peaceful university town in central Pennsylvania, the horror at Sandusky's alleged crimes has been compounded by concern of about a possible high-level cover-up.
Many Penn State fans have said it is unfair that Paterno was dismissed and that McQueary was not. Paterno said he was told in 2002 that Sandusky engaged in sexually inappropriate behavior with a young boy. He told his boss but did not call the police.
The mother of one boy involved said on Friday she feared Sandusky could have had many more victims than the eight covered by the charges against him so far.
"The people that hid this need to pay for their actions. They allowed this to happen to a lot of kids," the woman told ABC's "Good Morning America," which did not identify her and disguised her voice and appearance.
The mother, whose son is identified as Victim 1 in court papers, said there had been "so many years that he had access to these children, and I don't believe that it stops at eight." She said her son described Sandusky as a "weirdo."
The scandal reverberated as far as Wall Street when ratings agency Moody's warned of a possible credit downgrade on Penn State's debt rating.
"Over the next several months, Moody's will evaluate the potential scope of reputation and financial risk arising from these events," Dennis Gephart, a senior analyst at Moody's, said in a release.
The agency said the scandal could lead to lawsuits and settlements, weaker student demand, declines in philanthropic donations, and significant management or governance changes.
Interim President Rodney Erickson said the school community has rallied around Penn State at its time of crisis.
"Our friends, our alumni, our donors, those who have made significant contributions to the university, are sticking with us," Erickson said at a press conference, warning that there could be a short-term impact on fund-raising.
Penn State students pledged to show support for the victims of the alleged child abuse at the team's last home football game of the season against Nebraska on Saturday.
The mood on the campus was calm, but authorities planned to boost security after what police described as a "riotous mob" of students earlier this week protested Paterno's firing.
University board of trustees member Linda Strumpf told Reuters the board had considered canceling the game. "We felt very strongly that to penalize the players and the fans and the band ... was just the wrong thing to do," she said.
Sandusky was charged on Saturday with sexually abusing eight young boys over more than a decade. Former Penn State athletic director Tim Curley and former finance official Gary Schultz, were charged with failing to report an incident.
Sandusky, Curley and Schultz denied the charges. Paterno met his legal obligation by reporting the abuse allegation to Curley, legal experts said.
Penn State's board of trustees on Friday appointed Kenneth Frazier, the chief executive of drugmaker Merck & Co. and a Penn State alum, to head a special committee to investigate the events that lead up to the charges against Sandusky.
"We are going to do everything we can to restore the public's faith," Frazier told reporters.
The scandal has rocked the campus of about 45,000 students in the town of State College, the flagship of about two dozen Penn State campuses across the state.
Instead of the usual pre-game rally on Friday night, students planned a candle-light vigil for the alleged sex abuse victims, and fans going to the final home game were urged to wear blue -- the color associated with a "stop child abuse" campaign -- rather than traditional white.
"We have to raise child abuse awareness. No one wanted to see Joe Paterno fired. We want to see some good come out of this," said Jeff Lowe, 20, from Austin, Texas, who had a blue ribbon pinned to his shirt.
Lowe was among hundreds of Penn State fans camped out in advance of Saturday's game to get good seats. The traditional sea of tents that springs up before each home game has long been dubbed "Paternoville."
Penn State undergraduate student body president T.J. Bard said he did not expect violence at the game. Interim Penn State head coach Tom Bradley said he was not concerned about the safety of players.
The mother of Victim 1 said her son was 11 years old when he met Sandusky in 2005 through the former assistant coach's Second Mile charity program for at-risk children.
She said her son had feared speaking out against Sandusky, telling her: "I didn't know what to do ... you just can't tell Jerry no." But she said he is "doing OK" and felt a sense of relief when Sandusky was charged.
Prosecutors said Sandusky met all his alleged victims through the nonprofit group, which has said it cut ties with him in 2008. Sandusky coached for more than two decades at Penn State before retiring in 1999 and was once considered a likely successor to Paterno. After his retirement he retained access to Penn State facilities.
A ninth possible victim, now in his 20s, has since come forward, according to the Patriot-News in Harrisburg, and Pennsylvania police have set up a telephone hotline to receive information about the sexual abuse allegations.
Prosecutors in Texas have also opened an investigation into Sandusky after grand jury testimony in Pennsylvania indicated that he may have abused a young boy when Penn State was in San Antonio for the 1999 Alamo Bowl.
(Additional reporting by Mark Shade in Harrisburg, Dave Warner in Philadelphia and Joseph Ax in New York; Writing by Michelle Nichols and Ros Krasny; Editing by Mark Egan, Jackie Frank and Paul Simao)