Penn covered up the sign of the Coach Ted A. Nash Land Rowing Center after a filmmaker accused the center's namesake of sexual assault.
The covering-up occurred two days after The Daily Pennsylvanian reported that the filmmaker, Jennifer Fox, demanded that the University remove Nash's name from the rowing center. She alleged that Nash, a former Penn rowing coach, sexually assaulted her when she was 13 years old.
Fox publicly named Nash, who died in 2021, as her abuser for the first time in The New York Times on March 20. She had previously given Nash a pseudonym in her Emmy-nominated film detailing her relationship with him, "The Tale."
The sign was concealed by a black tarp, covering up the entire name. Following the cover up of the sign, Fox told the DP that she was pleased by the response, but hopes the University will make a more permanent change.
"I am really heartened by the University of Pennsylvania’s swift action to cover up the sign of Ted Nash on the rowing wing as the investigation goes on," Fox wrote in a statement. "While I know, my story is true, I am hoping that the [Times], the Inquirer, and all the other press, including this one, will inspire other women and men to come forward regarding any inappropriate contact with Ted Nash. My goal is to have his name permanently removed from all public to do with the sport everywhere."
A University spokesperson directed the DP to Penn Athletics for comment. Penn Athletics did not reply to a request for comment about the covering, but a spokesperson told The Philadelphia Inquirer that the sign was not covered in response to the DP's previous article.
“Conversations have been occurring internally over the past week,” a Penn Athletics spokesperson told the Inquirer.
United States Rowing Association, the national governing body for rowing, is leading an investigation following Fox filing a complaint against Nash, according to the Times.
“Penn Athletics has covered the signage in the indoor rowing center until the results of the USRowing commissioned investigation are known,” the spokesperson added.
Nash coached both women’s and men’s rowing at Penn from 1965 to 1983 after winning two Olympic medals. In 2013, Penn honored him with the dedication of its indoor rowing center, the Coach Ted A. Nash Land Rowing Center.
“We are deeply distressed by this highly disturbing news," Penn Athletics previously wrote in a statement to the DP. "Our thoughts are with Jennifer Fox, and others who were similarly subject to sexual abuse."
Fox previously said she believed that Penn should work to change the name of the center to address Nash's legacy.
“My goal is to have Nash’s name taken off of everything, not just at Penn, but everywhere,” Fox previously told the DP.
Members of the Penn community added that the dilemma symbolized a larger issue regarding sexual misconduct.
“Institutions faced with these issues are [at a] fork in the road. They have the choice to try to leave it alone, and they have a choice to truly improve their practices and to stand up for victims," Political Science professor and Chief Executive Officer of the children protection think tank CHILD USA Marci Hamilton said. "I hope Penn chooses the latter."
College junior and Chair of Penn's Abuse and Sexual Assault Prevention Harley Haas agreed with Hamilton's sentiments.
“Buildings get renamed all the time," Haas said. "If you want to make a building that represents the ideals of the athletic community — that means supporting all athletes, protecting all athletes — you should not be naming the building after an abuser.”
Staff Reporter Haley Son contributed reporting.