Dee Martindale said she'll always be an Indian at heart, but now she's ready to display her Warhawk pride.
A University of Louisiana at Monroe Class of 1987 graduate, Martindale was one of about 1,000 university supporters to attend the unveiling of the school's new Warhawk logo at Fant-Ewing Coliseum on Monday.
Cheers and applause rang through the arena as a black tarp was removed to unveil the new logo painted at center court. Displays set up across the court demonstrated the various marks that will be used to replace the old Indian imagery. "I'm really impressed (with the logo)," Martindale said. "I wasn't so sure about the change at first. I didn't want to get rid of Indians, but since we had to do it, I'm pleased with what we've got. The logo on the floor looks wonderful. It's time to start anew."
That seemed to be the general response from fans in attendance.
Men's basketball coach Orlando Early said his players were also pleased with the change. He agreed that the logo at center court looked "spectacular" and felt honored that the basketball court was the first place chosen on campus to display the new Warhawks imagery.
"I thought we got a good reaction," ULM President James Cofer said. "We'll see how much people really like it now by how much merchandise begins to move."
If Monday's response was any indication, Martindale wasn't the only one to like what she saw. Kelsey Bagwell, manager of the
school bookstore, estimated that $3,000 worth of shirts, hats, and other merchandise was sold in the hour that it was available at the temporary stand the store set up inside Fant-Ewing Coliseum.
Three different hats, blankets, coolers, men's and women's polo shirts, and about 10 different T-shirts were on display all of which were to be available at the bookstore starting today. Bagwell said additional merchandise was also on order and would be available soon.
Martindale was a typical customer Monday, buying two T-shirts and a hat for her husband. Tramel Dorsey, who plans to graduate from ULM this August, also bought two shirts.
"I like the fierceness in the eyes," Dorsey said of the logo. "(The hawk) has a great facial expression."
ULM athletic director Bobby Staub said a conscious effort was made at each step of the process to include the opinions of fans along with those within the athletic department. The university wanted a logo that those in the stands would embrace and that athletes would be proud to wear on their jerseys.
"The enthusiasm was great," Staub said of Monday's celebration. "I'm really excited. This was a successful ending to a long process."
That process began almost two years ago when the NCAA requested a self-evaluation from 33 schools, including ULM, into their use of Native American imagery in their athletics programs. Then last August, the NCAA ruled that mascots and nicknames of ULM and 17 other schools were "hostile and abusive" and that those schools wouldn't be allowed to wear their uniforms depicting those images in NCAA postseason events beginning Feb. 1.
Throughout the winter, ULM went through the process of evaluating a course of action, setting up a mascot committee to discuss various options. Students, faculty and alumni were all consulted throughout the process.
When an online poll of the 12 finalists was taken Warhawks was voted the overwhelming favorite to replace Indians as the new nickname.
"I like that every part of this was decided by a lot of different people," Mascot Committee Chairman George Luffey said. "You can't go wrong with a good majority."