KNOXVILLE (WATE) – A Tennessee lawmaker is calling on the UT Board of Trustees to save the name Lady Vols. UT has been planning to have all its athletics teams, men and women, compete under the name Tennessee Volunteers with the exception of the women’s basketball team.
State representative Roger Kane sent a letter to UT’s Board of Trustees expressing concern over the elimination of the Lady Vol brand. Forty-five state law makers signed on to the letter.
Web Extra: Read the full letter [PDF]
Laura Smith is a Hall of Fame Lady Vols soccer player who played at UT from 1997 to 2000. She feels strongly the Lady Vols name should remain for all women’s sports at UT.
“It is still shocking that the legacy and logo that has brought so much to the University of Tennessee and has empowered so many women and has brought such a tradition of excellence is now being dismantled,” said Smith.
Kane says university leaders thought the branding change was a good idea, but the public outcry should have changed their opinion.
“Everyone is on board that this needs to be reversed except the people at the top of the university, and it’s a publicly held university. And if the public says change it, you need to change it,” said Rep. Kane.
The university is standing by their decision. In an April email to a Lady Vols supporter, Chancellor Jimmy Cheek wrote that the Power T can be used as a single brand to connect all aspects of the university and clearly state the “One Tennessee” message.
Smith disagrees with the university’s strategy to create unity. She is thankful lawmakers are reaching out to UT’s Board of Trustees asking to have the board discuss the logo issue. 45 law makers signed on men and women, republican and democrat.
There is also a petition with thousands of signatures asking for university leaders to keep the Lady Vols logo.
“I’d like to see them listen to the 24,000-plus that have signed the petition – the fans, the athletes, the students who disagree with this decision – and overturn this decision which is not in the best interest of the university,” said Smith.
The Board of Trustees’ media relations said, “The Lady Vols branding matter is not on the agenda.”
Lady Vols supporters have been handing out flyers and plan to gather Thursday at noon at the Hollingsworth Auditorium to show the Board of Trustees they support the Lady Vols logo.
Former Lady Vol basketball player Cierra Burdick released a statement on website http://www.bringbacktheladyvols.com:
The Lady Vol logo is more than a brand that’s worn for games and meets. It’s a signature of excellence that has been carved out by hundreds of women’s blood, sweat, and tears. To do away with such a meaningful signature is a gesture that loses sight of the true essence of greatness.