Patches provide compromise on ‘Lady Vols’ legislation

A bill forcing the University of Tennessee to reinstate the “Lady Vols” nickname for all of its women’s sports teams has been shelved in return for a Lady Vols commemorative patch on all women’s sports uniforms for the 2016-17 school year, reports the News Sentinel.

After the 2016-17 year, individual women athletes would be allowed to have the commemorative patch on their uniforms at their discretion.

UT Knoxville chancellor Jimmy Cheek released a statement Monday in anticipation of the announcement:

“We have worked diligently with members of our Knox County legislative delegation to reach a compromise that is in the best interest of all parties to continue to honor the Lady Vols.

“All Tennessee women’s athletics teams will wear a commemorative patch on their uniform, honoring the legacy of the Lady Vols during the 2016–2017 season. The patch will include the Lady Vol logo. Women’s basketball will not wear the patch because they have maintained the name Lady Vols as a tribute to Coach Pat Summitt. After that season, each student-athlete will have the option of wearing the patch on her uniform.

“We realize there have been differences of opinion with the choice to use the Power T for all of our women’s athletics teams, except for basketball. A new branding effort and a combined athletics department, however, will never erase history and tradition. We want to focus on being stronger financially, improving facilities, and training and supporting all of our student-athletes and their programs.”

…In Nashville, state Rep. Roger Kane and Sen. Becky Duncan Massey described the agreement as a compromise. Kane (R-Knoxville) said he will take the bill filed forcing reinstatement of the name “off notice” in House subcommittee where it ran into difficulty last week — effectively placing the bill on hold. Sen. Frank Niceley (R-Strawberry Plains), the bill’s Senate sponsor, had not advanced the bill and joined with Kane and Massey at their State Capitol press conference.

“My goal always was to keep the brand alive for decades to come, to continue honoring the legacy of Coach Pat Summitt and the women she inspired as a coach, as a mentor and as a lifelong friend,” Kane said. He said he believes UT’s agreement to maintain intellectual-property rights in the Lady Vols name and logo, achieves that goal.

Massey (R-Knoxville) said the compromise “is not the perfect solution” but is “the compromise we agreed to. It resolves most of it. Obviously with any compromise, there’s some give and take. We would like for the logo to have come back but it will have a presence. The Lady Vol logo will be present on every female athlete at UT next year,” through the commemorative patch, she said.