SBD/July 13, 2012/Marketing and Sponsorship

Nike Removes Joe Paterno's Name From Child Development Center, A First For The Company

Paterno's name had been on Child Development Center since '90
Nike Thursday removed Joe Paterno's name from the Child Development Center at its Beaverton, Ore., HQs after the Freeh Report was critical of both Penn State Univ. and Paterno “for allegedly covering up for a child abuser rather than risk embarrassment to the football program, according to a front-page piece by Allan Brettman of the Portland OREGONIAN. Nike indicated that this is the "first time ... a name would be removed" from a building. The Joe Paterno Child Development Center was named in ’90, and few endorsers would have seemed to "have been a safer choice for the name on a child-development center than the quiet, grandfatherly" Paterno. After allegations surfaced in November against former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky, “and even after news reports indicated Paterno interceded to keep secret an incident of child abuse, Nike steadfastly said the name of the childcare center would not change.” But on Thursday, three hours “after former FBI director and U.S. District Court judge Louis Freeh announced the results of a Penn State-funded investigation into the university's handling of the scandal, Nike relented.” Nike Founder & Chair Phil Knight said, "It appears Joe made missteps that led to heartbreaking consequences. I missed that Joe missed it, and I am extremely saddened on this day. My love for Joe and his family remains." The removal of his name was a “rare move for a company that has shown great patience for the misbehaviors of its athletes over the years.” Several "larger-than-life Nike athletes have proven themselves to be abundantly fallible” in recent years, including Lance Armstrong, Kobe Bryant, Brett Favre, Ben Roethlisberger, Michael Vick and Tiger Woods (Portland OREGONIAN, 7/13). Paterno’s son, Jay, said, “I think Nike is a public corporation, they have stockholders and a board, and this is an emotional issue. I understand they have pressure to do things” (ESPN.com, 7/12).
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