Penn State is ‘pleased’ with the NCAA’s decision to allow student-athletes to support various social justice causes on their uniforms this upcoming season, a spokesperson said on Friday.
The ruling, which was announced on Thursday, states that student-athletes may wear a patch on the front of a uniform that “may be a commemorative/memorial patch (names, mascots, nicknames, logos and marks) intended to celebrate or memorialize people, events or other causes."
According to the NCAA’s press release on the matter, the patch must not exceed 2¼ square inches and must be placed on the front or sleeve of the uniform. In addition, athletes are permitted to use the space on a uniform where a player’s name is traditionally located.
For Penn State it brings up a somewhat obvious age-old-tradition-turned-debate when it comes to names on the back of Penn State football jerseys. The Nittany Lions have not had names on the back of their uniforms for nearly the entirety of the program’s existence aside from a brief period under coach Bill O’Brien.
As noted, the ruling also applies to sports and teams at Penn State, such as men's and women's basketball with no longstanding uniform traditions.
“We are pleased with the NCAA’s decision to allow student-athletes in all sports to wear patches on their uniforms for commemorative and memorial purposes, as well as to support social justice issues," a Penn State spokesperson said in a statement.
"As we do each year, we will be reviewing all aspects of game day for all 31 of our sports. This review may include items such as uniform patches, game day presentation and pregame activities. We will continue to have conversations among all of our teams and support our student-athletes in using their voice and their platform to highlight and promote matters important to our student-athletes, coaches and Intercollegiate Athletics family.”
Penn State has not indicated whether or not it would allow football players to put names or social justice messaging on the nameplate area of the uniform but it will almost certainly be a right players will look to exercise.
As Nittany Lions defensive end Shaka Toney noted on Twitter, “Got a few ideas of this.”