Penn State football has made a change to its iconic uniforms, announcing Tuesday that the player’s name will be placed on the back of the jersey “in recognition of (his) resolve and dedication to the team and the university,” according to a statement.
Penn State also announced that each uniform will feature a blue ribbon to support victims of child abuse.
Penn State uniforms have been known across the country for their simple design and lack of a name across the back. Head coach Bill O’Brien had said as recently as May that the uniforms wouldn’t change from the design favored by Joe Paterno for much of his 46 years as head coach.
However, O’Brien and the program apparently had a change of heart during the summer, given the conclusions of the Freeh Report into the university’s conduct during the Jerry Sandusky scandal and the harsh NCAA sanctions imposed against the team, including a four-year bowl ban, scholarship reductions and a $60 million fine.
According to the statement, O’Brien said he spoke with some members of the team and a decision was made by all to add names to the uniforms. He said the players decided that adding the names meant that each player would hold others accountable in representing Penn State football.
“We want our fans to know and recognize these young men,” O’Brien said in the statement. “They have stuck together during tough times and I commend them for the leadership they have shown. Moving forward, I’m deeply committed to honoring Penn State’s traditions, while building a bright future for our football program.”
O’Brien also said he was “proud that our players want to be part of the university’s efforts to help victims of child abuse.”
He added, “We hope our fans join us in wearing blue ribbons to all Penn State home games. Together, we can make a different in the lives of children everywhere.”
Acting athletic director Dave Joyner said the move by O’Brien and his players “made it clear they want to support victims and bring more awareness” to the issue of child abuse.
The new uniforms will be on display for the first time at the Nittany Lions’ Sept. 1 season opener against Ohio at Beaver Stadium.