Amid a merger between the athletic programs of Long Island University's Brooklyn and Post campuses, the LIU Brooklyn mascot Blackbirds is being ditched as of next fall — and alums of the school are upset, the New York Post reported.
The Blackbirds' nickname dates back to 1935, the paper said.
What's the background?
A group of 12 former LIU Brooklyn athletes and alumni met in March with school president Kimberly Cline to address their concerns, but Cline told them the Blackbirds mascot would be ditched and "also said the school has heard that the Blackbird is an offensive racist mascot," the Post reported.
The group asked Cline why can't the Blackbirds and the Pioneers — LIU Post's mascot — be on the ballot for merged programs' nickname, but she said a marketing firm suggested to wipe the slate clean, the paper added.
"As Blackbirds and Pioneers, our past and present student-athletes have built a strong foundation of excellence which our alumni are rightly proud of," LIU athletic director Debbie DeJong said in a statement to the Post. "Now, as we unite our two campuses into a strengthened Division I program, a new mascot will unify our national brand as we enter a new era of excellence."
What are the possible new mascots?
Students and alumni were polled on new nicknames, according to an email the Post said it obtained, and in the running are the Sharks, Eagles and Falcons.
How are some alumni responding?
The school's alums launched a Facebook group called "LIU Blackbirds Forever," the paper said, adding that the group's 112 members have tried without success to get board members and DeJong to come around to their way of thinking.
"We're in support of the president's initiative in terms of combining the programs and doing different things between the universities and merging them in a concept she called 'One LIU,'" former LIU Brooklyn athletic director Jerry Donner told the Post. "But with respect to the Blackbird, it's iconic. It's unique. It's the only mascot in the country like it. Most of the alums I've been in contact with are very passionate about the Blackbird. It's special."
He added to the paper: "We don't want that history to be rewritten. We want it to be part of the university's legacy for the future. I think the most important part of this is the university re-evaluate its decision regarding the iconic Blackbird. It would be to their advantage."
(H/T: The College Fix)