Valparaiso drops mascot linked to KKK & violence after already having ditched Nazi-linked name in '40s; might we suggest one?

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THe greatest moment in Valpo history — the 1998 NCAA upset of Mississippi.
THe greatest moment in Valpo history — the 1998 NCAA upset of Mississippi.
Image: AP

You probably haven’t thought much lately about Valparaiso University, the Lutheran school about an hour southeast of Chicago, in the Indiana town that lends its name to the institution.

Valpo is most famous, sports-wise, for Bryce Drew’s buzzer-beater to upset Ole Miss in the 1998 NCAA Tournament, and victory over Florida State in the second round to reach the Sweet 16. Since then, Valpo went to the 2016 NIT title game, and have six one-and-done trips to the Big Dance on their ledger.


The teams at Valparaiso have been known as the Crusaders, but that nickname is being retired. As interim university president Colette Irwin-Knott explained in the Valpo Torch, “The negative connotation associated with the Crusader is not reflective of Valor’s mission and values, which promote a welcoming and inclusive community.”

CNN noted that the Crusader is an image used by hate groups, as well as the name of the Ku Klux Klan’s newspaper. But on campus, it’s about more than that, reflected by the Torch’s reporting.


The Torch quoted Valpo senior Jenna Rifai about how, “As a Muslim, I was embarrassed to come to Valpo because the school’s mascot was a Crusader, even though my mom and older siblings went here before me. … I know it seems like a little small image but that image holds power. Symbols hold power.”

On the other side of the issue was a Valpo athlete who asked for anonymity to say, “It goes against what I feel like is one of Valpo’s strongest characteristics: tradition.”

The “tradition” of Valparaiso being the Crusaders goes all the way back to… 1942. That’s when Valpo decided to ditch its previous mascot, the Uhlan, because of that word’s link to German cavalry units. Never mind that by World War II, it was Nazi Germany overrunning the Polish Uhlans, but Valpo wanted nothing to do with that name. From 1934-40, even the school yearbook had been called “The Uhlan,” the 1939 edition of which referred to Valpo as Uhlanville.

One of those Uhlan yearbooks may hold the key to Valpo’s future nickname.

Image for article titled Valparaiso drops mascot linked to KKK & violence after already having ditched Nazi-linked name in '40s; might we suggest one?
Illustration: The Uhlan, 1939, screenshot from Valparaiso University Library Digital Collection

Please become the Donkeys and bring back a mascot that’s literally all about kicking ass. (Tweet!)

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He shouldn’t have gotten the job in the first place, but…


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