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Nike Distances Itself From Football Coach Paterno's Legacy

By Val Brickates Kennedy BOSTON--Sports-apparel titan Nike Inc. (NKE) on Thursday made moves to distance itself from the legacy of the late Pennsylvania State University football coach Joe Paterno, in the wake of a scathing report about the school's recent child-abuse scandal that cast serious doubts about his judgment. Nike (NKE) said it was removing Mr. Paterno's name off the child-care center at its headquarters in Beaverton, Ore., as a result of the report, which was released earlier in the day. "I have been deeply saddened by the news coming out of this investigation at Penn State. It is a terrible tragedy that children were unprotected from such abhorrent crimes," said Nike Chief Executive Mark Parker, in a statement posted on the company's website. "With the findings released [Thursday], I have decided to change the name of our child-care center at our world headquarters. My thoughts are with the victims and the Penn State community," Mr. Parker added. Phil Knight, the Nike co-founder and chairman who is a longtime friend of Paterno's, also expressed his regrets over the report. "According to the investigation, it appears Joe made missteps that led to heartbreaking consequences," he said. "I missed that Joe missed it, and I am extremely saddened on this day. My love for Joe and his family remains." Both Mr. Parker and Mr. Knight have deep ties to Penn State. Mr. Parker ran track for the university, graduating in 1977, at Penn State in January, where he defended the coach amid allegations that Mr. Paterno had not responded properly to reports that children had been sexually abused by Jerry Sandusky, a former defensive coach. Nike's move came just hours after an investigation by former FBI Director Louis Freeh found that Mr. Paterno and other high-ranking Penn State officials did not act to prevent Mr. Sandusky from sexually abusing boys, sometimes at school facilities. The report was commissioned by Penn State's trustees. Mr. Sandusky was found guilty on 45 counts of child sex abuse in June and could spend the rest of his life in prison, reports say. Mr. Paterno, one of the most acclaimed coaches in football history, died of cancer in January, two months after he was fired for failing to properly respond to allegations that Sandusky had been sexually abusing boys. Write to Val Brickates Kennedy at AskNewswires@dowjones.com

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