Before watching his football team play Georgia Tech here in the Sun Bowl Saturday, Utah athletic director Chris Hill did not deny reports made by KSL.com that the Utah Utes are considering dropping the drum and feather logo.
On Saturday, Hill refused to discuss the situation other than to say the Utes evaluate the use of the logo every year.
He did, however, say the Pac-12 is not putting any pressure on the Utes to make changes.
"I can tell you 'no,' on that," he said.
He would not respond to questions that there could be a possibility the Utes might consider dropping the "Utes" nickname as well. It is known there is some internal pressure from within the university to drop the nickname.
Asked if the "Utes," name was important to the school as a way to brand the program on a national level, given some of the reputation the Utes have built with their BCS wins and move to the Pac-12, and Hill declined to comment.
"We evaluate everything every year," he said. "We are who we are right now."
Utah has approval from the Ute Tribal Council to use the word "Utes" and the logo, but use of Native American symbols by athletic teams has been a controversial subject for many years.
In 2005 Utah was among 18 schools subject to restrictions by the NCAA for having American Indian nickname mascots or images, but the Utes successfully appealed because its images were endorsed by the Ute Tribe.
In 2009, Hill said the Utes were in the process of phasing out the drum and feather logo on all items deemed as "permanent" or lasting for more than a year, such as on buildings, stadiums and so forth but has continued to be used on uniforms, apparel, media guides and in TV commercials every year.
He acknowledged then that there might be a time the Utes would have to drop the logo and nickname. "It depends on the climate," he said then.
Utah's athletic teams were referred to as the "Utes" and "Redskins" until 1972 when the Utes dropped the term "Redskins."
Hill is never one to reveal what his intentions are, but judging his reactions Saturday, don't be surprised if the Utes do have some changes in the works that could involve logo changes and possibly to the nickname.
- Lya Wodraska
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