The Campus Chronicle
Vol. XVIII, Issue 33
for the Amherst campus of the University of Massachusetts
May 16, 2003

 Page One Grain & Chaff Obituaries Letters to the Chronicle Archives Feedback Weekly Bulletin

 Page One Grain & Chaff Obituaries Letters to the Chronicle Archives Feedback Weekly Bulletin





Letters to the Chronicle

Athletic marketing misses scoring opportunities

The Athletic Department has fixed on the wrong target. It's their marketing that needs fixing, not the Minuteman.

When the football stadium was built, the department erected a wooden sign, worthy of a third-level high school, facing Route 116 to advertise football games. They let it rot away and fall over, leaving a rusted metal frame still visible from the highway. Nothing has replaced it for years. At the same time they have failed to use the huge expanse of stadium wall facing Route 116, and a similar wall facing the stadium's mall entrance that should have big Minuteman signs on them. The UMass crew team's shed by the Connecticut River can be seen from Route 9 and should have had a sign long ago.

Marketing opportunities have long been missed on other University properties. The tall chimneys at the power plant should at least have an "M" letter that could be seen for miles. The UMass orchard in Belchertown has directional signs on both Routes 9 and 181 that do not even mention the University. UMass has a building whose end and one side are visible to millions of people driving to Cape Cod via the interstate extension leading to the Bourne Bridge. It is the UMass Cranberry Experiment Station -- with no sign.

Over the years I have repeatedly pointed out these missed opportunities to campus administrators whose jobs include marketing and advancement, but to no avail. Tired of their indifference, I spent a couple of years of lobbying, with help from Sen. Rosenberg and Rep. Story, to get Mass Highway to erect the UMass directional signs on the north and southbound lanes of I-91 a few years ago. UMass could be included on the Mass Highway's blue "attractions" signs on I-91 if someone would take the initiative.

Considering how successfully Virginia Polytechnic Institute has marketed a symbol understood by few, called a "Hokie," our Athletics Department ought not to say they cannot market the well-known Minuteman until they have tried.

professor emeritus
Natural Resources Conservation

Athletes should be proud of Minutemen

Regarding the administration's intention to dump the Minutemen: Is it marketing or gender or both? The print media have suggested that gender is an issue. If so, I would raise the matter of athletes being more concerned about themselves than what they represent. Did Jessica Lynch object to being called a soldier? I don't think so. All student-athletes should be proud to represent the Minutemen, what they stand for and what they mean to the Commonwealth.

Dumping the Minutemen might bring in more marketing money, but my not insubstantial donations to athletics would cease.

Psychology Department

Athletic director Ian McCaw replies:

Thank you for taking time to share your feelings with regard to the Minuteman. There has been much discussion about this issue the past few weeks, which I believe has been quite healthy for the process.

Past UMass athletic teams have been known as the Statesmen, Aggies, Redmen (1948) and since 1972, as the Minutemen. When the student body voted to call its athletic teams the Minutemen, the campus sponsored 15 varsity sports for men and only two for women. Today, some 52 percent of our student-athletes are female and we provide 12 intercollegiate programs for women and 10 for men.

With the landscape of our athletic program changing considerably over the past 30 years and in an effort to generate new revenue streams for our program, New York City's Phoenix Design Works was retained to evaluate all logos and marks currently used by our 22-sport program and recommend changes if needed. As part of this review, Phoenix Design looked beyond the current use of the Minuteman logo.

Eighty-five individuals (47 men, 38 women) participated in one of eight focus groups held by Phoenix on campus, April 24-25.

Those groups were presented with a variety of new Minuteman designs as well as an example of an animal mascot (wolf). The focus groups included members of the student body, Alumni Association members, UMass Athletic Fund contributors, head coaches, senior staff and student-athletes currently in the department and members of other University constituencies.

The University is still in the review process as it studies the feedback it has received not only from the focus groups, but from other sources, too. At this point, we are continuing to review various illustrations and alternatives and remain on track to complete this project by the end of May.

It has been wonderful to see that so many of our alumni and friends are passionate about the University and its athletic programs. All of us look forward to a successful outcome that will provide an identity system that is embraced by the entire UMass community that also affords us longevity and marketability.
Stay tuned!

Winning team sells better than a winning look

I just saw your article regarding possibly changing the mascot to (among other things) increase merchandise revenue.

It would be nice if Ian McCaw focused on more important things - things like creating winning teams. It's no surprise that "Our licensing royalties in the early '90s were upwards of about $400,000 a year," and "Now they're about $100,000 a year."

The early '90s was the last time UMass had a winning team in a program with national appeal (basketball). A number one basketball team tends to sell merchandise regardless of what's on it. Not surprisingly, losing programs sell no merchandise regardless of what's on it.

Class of '90
Chicago, Illinois

Dropping Minuteman is 'inappropriate'

As an assistant professor of radiologic technology at Ivy Tech State College, a medical professional and ignoring the risk of sounding like a Midwestern redneck, I feel compelled to tell you how I feel about the proposal to change the school symbol of the white, male Minuteman with a (gasp!) firearm, to something else.

It is inappropriate to do away with a "traditional" symbol of an American Minuteman and to replace it with an animal.

Terre Haute, Indiana

Middle ground

In the spirit of learning from our profound intellectual differences, let's be the Minutewolves.

Comparative Literature

Wrong pack

Gray Wolves? Sounds like a bunch of aging lotharios.

Psychology Department

Cactuses or cacti?

Your recent news column article on Professor [Thomas] Boyle (May 9) was entertaining and an enjoyable read. However, the correct plural form of the word cactus is cacti.

Class of 2003

Editor's reply:

While the Merriam-Webster Dictionary lists both "cacti" and "cactuses" as acceptable plural forms, the Associated Press Stylebook and Libel Manual -- the standard for newswriting -- states that "cactuses" is the correct plural.

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