Indiana University has announced the decision to rename its North End Zone Plaza to honor a former Hoosiers football great and trailblazer in college football.
Over the weekend, IU President Michael A. McRobbie announced that the North End Zone Plaza will be renamed George Taliaferro Plaza to honor the former football star. The school also plans to erect a statue of Taliaferro to further honor his memory.
“The renamed plaza and new statue will honor George’s many contributions to Indiana University and the Bloomington community and be a fitting tribute to his enduring legacy as an exceptional athlete, trailblazer for racial equality, educator, community activist and friend and mentor to many,” McRobbie said, according to IUHoosiers.com. “They will also reflect the very best of IU athletics and serve to remind all those student-athletes and fans who visit them of what it takes, including enormous courage, determination and integrity, to be a true champion.”
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Taliaferro is one of the most accomplished football players in IU and Big Ten Conference history, but his contributions extended well beyond what he achieved on the playing field. Along with former IU President Herman B Wells, Taliaferro played a pivotal role in desegregating the Indiana University campus.
Taliaferro played at Indiana in the mid-to-late-1940s and was a three-time All-American. He led the Hoosiers in rushing in 1945, leading the team to a 9-0-1 record and a B1G title.
In 1949, Taliaferro was selected in the 13th round of the NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears, becoming the first African-American drafted by an NFL team. He played six years at the professional level.
Taliaferro was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1981.