Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren announced the creation of the George and Viola Taliaferro Fellowship on Thursday afternoon at Big Ten Media Days in Indianapolis, named for the former IU football star who died in 2018.
The fellowship will provide opportunities for individuals in historically marginalized groups to obtain access to conference leadership positions, including in the Office of the Commissioner.
Taliaferro, who played running back, quarterback, defensive back and kicker for IU from 1945 through 1948, helped lead the Hoosiers to the 1945 Big Ten championship and was a three-time All-American. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1981.
In 1949, Taliaferro was selected in the 13th round of the NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears, becoming the first African American player drafted into the NFL. In the NFL, he was a three-time Pro Bowler.
IU dedicated the George Taliaferro Plaza and statue outside the north end zone of Memorial Stadium in November 2019. His daughters served as honorary captains and the team wore No. 44 on their helmets in his honor during that week’s game against Northwestern.