Valparaiso Dropping Crusaders Name, Mascot over Hate Group Links

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistFebruary 11, 2021

Valparaiso's Javon Freeman-Liberty (0) drives past Missouri State's Ja'Monta Black during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the semifinal round of the Missouri Valley Conference men's tournament Saturday, March 7, 2020, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

Valparaiso University will drop the name Crusaders since the term has been co-opted by hate groups, including the Ku Klux Klan, according to the Associated Press (via ESPN.com).  

"The negative connotation and violence associated with the Crusader imagery are not reflective of Valpo's mission and values, which promote a welcoming and inclusive community," interim president Colette Irwin-Knott said. "This is the decision that best reflects our values and community."

A committee will develop a new name with school president-elect Jose D. Padilla set to oversee the process when he takes over on March 1.

The Lutheran university located in Indiana hosts 17 sports teams, with the men's basketball team especially known for its past appearances in March Madness.

It was one of two Division I schools that have kept the Crusaders nickname, along with Holy Cross, but Irwin-Knott decided to follow the lead of other schools that have made a change like Wheaton College in Illinois.

"Valpo is and always has been a faith-based institution, and we want to make sure our symbolism is in alignment with our beliefs and speaks to the core values of the Lutheran ethos," she said. "At Valpo, we strive to seek truth, serve generously and cultivate hope. We do not believe having the Crusader as our mascot portrays these values."

Valparaiso sports teams were initially known as the Uhlan, but the name was changed in 1942 due to the connection to Nazi Germany, per Amy Lavalley of the Chicago Tribune.