One of the most recognizable corporate supporters of Joe Paterno in life was NIKE and the company’s co-founder and chairman Phil Knight.
Knight even eulogized Paterno at the coach's memorial service following his death in January.
NIKE's connections to Paterno and Penn State run deeper than just Knight. NIKE President and CEO Mark Parker is a Penn State alumni who ran competitively at the school in the 1970s.
After the release of Judge Louis Freeh’s report on how Paterno and fellow PSU leaders failed for more than a decade to report allegations of child abuse by convicted child molester Jerry Sandusky with no regard for victims, NIKE distanced itself from the deceased football legend.
Parker posted the following statement to to NIKE’s website in the hours after the release of the scathing Freeh report:
"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. With the findings released today, 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."
The child-care center at NIKE's Beaverton, Ore. campus was named for Paterno -- a man Knight held long held in great esteem.
"Throughout Joe Paterno’s career, he strived to put young athletes in a position to succeed and win in sport but most importantly in life," Knight said in the release. "Joe influenced thousands of young men to become better leaders, fathers and husbands.
"According to the investigation, 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."
It’s unclear what NIKE will name their corporate child-care center moving forward.