BEAVERTON, Ore. -- The president of Nike Inc. said Thursday he has decided to change the name of the Joe Paterno Child Development Center, a child care facility at the company's headquarters outside Portland.
Chief executive Mark Parker said he was deeply saddened by the news coming out of the Louis Freeh investigation on the child sex abuse scandal at Penn State. Freeh says Paterno and other top school officials disregarded the welfare of Jerry Sandusky's victims as they failed to report abuse allegations against the longtime assistant coach.
"It is a terrible tragedy that children were unprotected from such abhorrent crimes," Parker said.
Nike founder Phil Knight, who defended Paterno at the coach's memorial service, said "it appears Joe made missteps that led to heartbreaking consequences. I missed that Joe missed it, and I am extremely saddened on this day."
Knight said Paterno strived to put young athletes in a position to succeed in sports and in life.
"My love for Joe and his family remains," Knight said.
In a television interview with ESPN correspondent Tom Rinaldi on Thursday, Paterno's son, Jay, said he understood Nike's decision.
"I think Nike is a public corporation, they have stockholders and a board, and this is an emotional issue," Jay Paterno said. "I understand they have pressure to do things. Phil Knight is a family friend and will continue to be a family friend."
Nike has not released a new name for the Joe Paterno Child Development Center, which opened in the early 1990s and was remodeled in 2008. Company officials did not respond to requests for more information about the center or its new name.
The company is known for naming its buildings after sports figures including Michael Jordan, Bo Jackson, Nolan Ryan and Mike Schmidt. Nike's headquarters is located on Bowerman Drive, named for Bill Bowerman, Knight's track and field coach at the University of Oregon who co-founded the athletic-wear giant.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.