Penn State to add player names, child abuse ribbons to jerseys
Players' names are being added to Penn State's football jerseys for the coming season, the university announced Tuesday, along with blue ribbons to show support for victims of child abuse.
The team's generic look — blue-and-white, no names on jerseys — has long been a trademark and was associated with the buttoned-down style of former coach Joe Paterno, who was fired last year after his former assistant Jerry Sandusky was arrested on child molestation charges.
School officials said adding the names was a way to recognize the "resolve and dedication" of the players, as the team faces a four-year bowl ban and loss of scholarships under the severe penalties handed down by the NCAA last month over the school's handling of the Sandusky scandal.
The changes will take effect with the Sept. 1 season opener at home against Ohio University.
"We want our fans to know and recognize these young men," said coach Bill O'Brien, who was hired after last season. "They have stuck together during tough times, and I commend them for the leadership they have shown."
Fran Fisher, a longtime Penn State radio announcer, said the jersey changes may ruffle some feathers among former players, and the vanilla uniforms will continue to be associated with Paterno.
"I think Coach O'Brien has a right to do whatever he wants to do to have an identity for his team," Fisher said. "I think that the plainness of the Paterno era will be remembered because he considered it to be a team sport."
Sandusky, 68, awaits sentencing on 45 criminal counts, probably next month, and is likely to spend the rest of his life in state prison.
Paterno died of lung cancer in January, and a university-commissioned investigation of the Sandusky scandal concluded he and other top Penn State officials concealed allegations against Sandusky going back to 1998.
The NCAA also stripped the school and Paterno of more than 100 wins, dropping him from atop the list of the winningest coaches in major college football history.