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Sun Belt: ESPN, UL can decide what Cajuns should be called on air

Tim Buckley, Daily Advertiser, Oct. 22, 2013 4:03 PM

JONESBORO, Ark. – According to an email memo obtained by the Daily Advertiser, the Sun Belt Conference has made it known to ESPN officials that it will not get in the way of UL being called what it prefers during the Ragin’ Cajuns’ ESPN2-televised game at Arkansas State tonight.

The email sent Sunday by a Sun Belt executive was addressed to ESPN personnel, and both UL and Sun Belt officials received copies.

It reads:

“For this upcoming Tuesday’s broadcast, we would like to make it clear that the Sun Belt Conference will not dictate to ESPN how an institution should be referenced. The choice on how the university is referred to on air and in graphics during the broadcast will be determined in conjunction between ESPN and the respective universities.”

Names and email addresses of those receiving the memo were redacted at the request of the person who provided it to the Advertiser.

UL states its preferences in a memo that it has included on all pregame notes material this season.

It reads:

“There is confusion among the national sports organizations as (to) how to refer to the Ragin’ Cajuns. Our official name is the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, but much like our opponents around the country, we simply go by Louisiana when referring to our athletic programs.

“It is the same situation at the Universities of Texas (at Austin), Tennessee (at Knoxville) and California (at Berkeley), but years of use and understanding by the sports media has led to each of those schools to have their athletic monikers being simplified and accepted nationally.

“Although we proudly refer to our University with its full title for academic purposes, we ask that you use Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns or some combination of those terms, when talking about our athletic teams.”

Those at UL particularly do not want their sports teams referred to as Louisiana-Lafayette or ULL, both monikers familiar to many outside of Louisiana.

“We have had dialogue all week with ESPN about referring to our university,” UL sports information director Brian McCann said Tuesday, “and we look forward to that discussion moving forward in the days and weeks to come.”

McCann suggested ESPN might not be able to alter some of its name references to UL in various graphics used tonight because it takes some length of time for that to be changed.

The Sun Belt, meanwhile, typically refers to UL as Louisiana-Lafayette, consistent with its referencing fellow conference member UL Monroe as Louisiana-Monroe.

UL Monroe’s preference is to retain the Monroe reference within its name, but it’s also known its desire – in conflict with that of the Cajuns – is that UL retain Lafayette as well.

It remains to be seen what the conference will call UL’s sports teams going forward.

“This is something we continue to examine and explore, and we are working with our member institutions for the best available outcome,” John McElwain, the Sun Belt’s associate commissioner for communications, said Tuesday.

The memo to ESPN in part stems from ESPN2’s broadcast of UL’s win at Western Kentucky last Tuesday night.

UL was referred to at times then as Louisiana-Lafayette and, during an in-studio segment, it also was called simply Lafayette, which is a different NCAA-member school altogether.

Play-by-play announcer Joe Davis issued a series of tweets last week – some of them in response to comments and/or questions from Cajun fans upset with what UL was being called – that suggested the Sun Belt ultimately was responsible for the Louisiana-Lafayette references.

Among them: “I’m employed by a company partnered with the Sun Belt,” “It’s all driven by the sun belt” and “have to play by SB’s rules for healthy relationship.”

Davis called the UL-at-WKU game for ESPN2, and will call tonight’s game at Arkansas State as well.

After tonight, UL has one more regular-season game remaining that is scheduled to be aired on an ESPN network – Nov. 7 vs. Troy on ESPNU.