Athletics: UL Lafayette may have gone too far, former president says – vote in poll
Claire Taylor, Daily Advertiser, Oct. 24, 2013
The Pride of Acadiana Marching Band performs for fans at the UL football tailgate at Cajun Field Oct. 5. / Paul Kieu, The Advertiser
The University of Louisiana at Lafayette can’t stop sportswriters and announcers from referring to its team as Louisiana, retired longtime university President Ray Authement said Wednesday.
But if the university is telling reporters to call the team Louisiana, it needs to be careful, he cautioned.
UL Lafayette has long referred to its athletic teams as Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns, printing Louisiana across its football team’s jerseys.
The university may have gone too far this season, criticizing sports announcers for not calling the team Louisiana and even putting in its game notes that “much like our opponents around the country, we simply go by Louisiana when referring to our athletic programs.”
A news story in the The (Monroe) News-Star on Wednesday alleged UL Lafayette may be violating a state law by encouraging the sports media to call its football team Louisiana, especially for nationally televised games.
University of Louisiana System President Sandra Woodley, in a written statement Wednesday, said a 1998 Board of Supervisors policy dictates how universities may refer to themselves but does not address whether the stand-alone reference Louisiana is acceptable. The UL System oversees both UL Lafayette and ULM.
A 1995 state law said institutions in the University of Louisiana System could change their name to University of Louisiana if two schools did so at the same time and if they included the school’s geographic location in the name.
To gain the support of Northeast Louisiana University, Authement helped the Monroe school get into the same athletic conference as USL — the Sun Belt Conference. The deal was made and USL became University of Louisiana at Lafayette and Northeast Louisiana University became University of Louisiana at Monroe in 1999.
It was a large victory for Authement and the university but fell short of the original goal, which was to be called the University of Louisiana. Louisiana’s flagship public university, LSU, with its powerful alumni and legislative supporters, killed that attempt in the 1980s.
What the rules say
An excerpt of the policy, from the University of Louisiana System Office:
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"In Memory of Paul D. Dugas; 3/2/1964 - 1/13/2003; L'Acadien Copy Manager, 1985; Vermilion editor, 1987 and Kenneth Lane Spears; 7/23/39 - 7/28/97; USL Alumnus and High School Coach."
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