KNOXVILLE - UPDATE Thursday, Sept. 14, 2017 at 1:15 p.m.
UT Athletics Director John Currie announced Thursday that UT will restore "official visibility" of the Lady Vols brand and name.
Currie spoke about the Power T being the official mark of the campus, but said that doesn't mean all other brands must cease to exist. Therefore, women athletes can refer to themselves at UT as Lady Vols.
"I wanted to gauge the feelings of current Tennessee students and student-athletes as well as the university community and alumni, Lady Vol alumni athletes, donors, fans, colleagues throughout intercollegiate athletics and gender equity experts. I sought perspectives from local and national media who closely follow women's athletics," Currie said.
He discussed how proud he is of Pat Summitt's legacy.
"She is a true Tennessee treasure," he said. "The Hall will begin its 20th anniversary celebration next year, and we need to use that occasion to honor Coach Summitt and the Lady Vol legacy of excellence—that legacy of excellence, though, extends to all our sports."
Currie said the important thing now is that the Athletics department can move forward and restore the Lady Vols brand.
Most women's uniforms say Tennessee and that will remain. However, Currie said student athletes can employ the Lady Vols name and brand as they like.
"we really wanted to make sure that we were thorough in considering all the different perspectives," Currie said.
This announcement has no bearing on UT's contractual agreement with Nike.
"Nike is a great partner for the University of Tennessee. We have great relationships, and obviously we've communicated and had a great dialogue," Currie said.
The school will restore Tennessee's Lady Vol presence by continuing to honor and celebrate UT's legacy of incredible national leadership and accomplishments in women's athletics.
Currie said they will be restoring Lady Vol branding and signage to athletic facilities such as Sherri Parker Lee Stadium and Regal Stadium.
Thursday afternoon, Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett released the following statement:
“I commend the University of Tennessee and the UT Athletics Department on their decision to restore the Lady Vols brand. UT athletics, both men’s and women’s, are key economic drivers in Knox County, and they are an important part of our regional identity. For decades, UT Lady Vols have had a long tradition of excellence in collegiate athletics, and the restoration of the Lady Vols brand sends a message to current and former athletes, coaches, students and fans that we are proud of our Lady Vols history and we will continue to support them across Big Orange Country.”
The Lady Vols name, logo, and brand will be the topic of discussion at a press conference set for 1 p.m. Thursday.
Tennessee Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics John Currie will host the conference in the Ray & Lucy Hand Digital Studio. This will be Currie's first comment on the topic since taking the position.
Last year, UT and East Tennessee lawmakers who wanted to force the school to put the Lady Vols name back on all its women's athletic teams reached a compromise. Right now, only the women's basketball team is official referred to the Lady Vols.
Chancellor Jimmy Cheek said all women's athletics teams will wear a commemorative patch on their uniforms during the 2016-2017 season to honor the "legacy of the Lady Vols."
After that season, each student-athlete were to decide whether or not to wear the patch on her uniform.
When UT athletics switched to Nike in 2015, it ditched the Lady Vol brand for all sports, except women's basketball.
Lawmakers claimed the school ignored the petitions and demonstrations from thousands of people upset over the change.
However, the university has said it was simply a business decision that coincided with a switch to Nike and helped unite the brand.
UT will face South Carolina , Texas A&M and Vanderbilt in home-and-home series in the 2017-18 season.
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