Joe Paterno’s name will not appear on the new Big Ten championship trophy because of the child sex-abuse scandal that cost him his job, the conference announced Monday.
"The trophy and its namesake are intended to be celebratory and aspirational, not controversial,” Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delaney said in a statement. “We believe that it's important to keep the focus on the players and the teams that will be competing in the inaugural championship game."
"We believe that it would be inappropriate to keep Joe Paterno's name on the trophy at this time,” Delaney said.
The trophy was to be named for both Paterno and former University of Chicago coach Amos Alonzo Stagg. The Big Ten said the trophy, which will be awarded after the Dec. 3 championship game in Indianapolis, will be called the Stagg Championship Trophy.
This is the first year a championship will be played in the Big Ten conference, which split into two divisions this year after welcoming in the University of Nebraska.
Penn State issued no statement in response to the decision.
Paterno has won the most games as coach in Division I college football history. Coincidentally, he and Stagg share the title for most games coached – 549.
Paterno was fired last week after reports emerged that the coach did not tell police about an alleged sexual assault committed by former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky in the Penn State locker room.
Graduate assistant Mike McQueary, who is now a coach on staff and who is under fire in his own right, allegedly saw the sexual abuse and told only Paterno. Paterno told officials at Penn State, but did not alert authorities.
Big Ten officials did not say whether they will include Paterno’s name on the trophy in the future. It is unclear if Penn State or Paterno will appeal the decision.
For fans, it’s yet another blow to Paterno’s legacy and to that of Penn State football. Long past any period of on-field dominance, the school hasn’t won a national championship in 15 years.
Students protested on campus after learning of Paterno’s firing last week, flipping a car and getting chippy with law enforcement at times.