SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- A statue of Army coach Earl "Red" Blaik was unveiled Wednesday at the College Football Hall of Fame after West Point rejected it because it lists the names of 23 players involved in a cheating scandal.
"This sculpture was never intended as a memorial to coach Blaik, but as a memorial to an era in Army football," Blaik's son, Bob, said.
The statue originally was going to be placed at West Point, but Bob Blaik and others behind the plan wanted the names of all lettermen who played under Blaik listed on bronze plaques on the statue's base. A group of U.S. Military Academy alumni protested the inclusion of lettermen dismissed in a 1951 cheating scandal, including Bob Blaik.
"Red" Blaik is Army's winningest coach, with a 121-33-10 record and national championships in 1944 and 1945.
Some of the 40 former Army players who attended Wednesday's ceremony defended the decision to include the names.
"What you have to understand is many of them did not take part in it at all other than conceivably being aware of it," said Bill Yeoman, a center for Army from 1946-48 who went on to become a Hall of Fame coach at the University of Houston. "I know for certain many of them were not involved."
But for some graduates from a campus where the Cadet Honor Code is etched in a black marble monument, reading: "A cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do," just knowing about the cheating scandal is enough to keep names off.
Associate athletic director Ed Rose, who was at the unveiling, referred questions about the controversy to the academy's public affairs office. A message seeking comment was left at the office Wednesday.
First-year Army coach Bobby Ross also was at the unveiling but said he didn't know enough about it to comment.
"But I think this is very nice place for it to be, to be very honest with you. I think more people will have the opportunity to see it here," he said.
Glenna Goodacre, who created the sculpture, said it was Bob Blaik who wanted all the names included on bronze plaques on the 3-foot high granite base. She focused on the 5-foot-7 bronze sculpture of a kneeling Blaik.
Bernie Kish, the hall's executive director and a retired Army colonel, said the hall didn't hesitate to accept the statue.
"We welcomed it with open arms," he said. "Those men lettered for coach Blaik, they played for him and their names are still listed as lettermen in everything that Army publishes."
Kish said the statue belongs at the hall because Blaik, who led Army to two national championships, was one of its founders.
"We thought it was very appropriate that if it's not going to be at West Point, that it's going to be here in South Bend," he said.