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Utes' logo to remain as is for time being

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 3 2012 2:41 p.m. MST

SALT LAKE CITY — So much for a media report that the University of Utah athletics department was dropping its drum (or circle) and feather logo. The school said otherwise in a released statement on Tuesday.

"The University of Utah and its athletics department periodically review the use of the circle and feather logo out of sensitivity for native tribes across the country as well as Utah fans," it read. "At this time, the athletics department will continue to use both the circle and feather and the block U logos."

A KSL.com report on Saturday said that the school was dropping the drum and feather logo. Utah athletics director Chris Hill, however, called it inaccurate.

"It is," Hill said. "Because we just announced today that we're not."

Like a lot of things, Hill explained, use of the logo is reviewed periodically. A lot of people want to discuss it, he said, including the administration, Board of Trustees, faculty and students

Hill insists there is no "kind of logo watch out there." It's just something that will be looked at from time-to-time because the university is much bigger than the athletic department, so it influences a lot of people and not just those who come to games.

Discussions, Hill noted, have taken place off-and-on over the past 15-20 years.

"We want to be sensitive to Native American tribes and sensitive to our fans," Hill said. "We want to do the best we can and that's all we can do."

Tuesday's announcement followed informal discussions with trustees and upper administration talks. It's part of what Hill considers "due diligence" and a responsibility folks on the hill take seriously.

"We're part of the university and something that is that passionate for people is something we'd want all of us to feel good about before changing or keeping or whatever," Hill said. "Right now, we use both logos and will continue to do that. From time to time we'll wind up reviewing this."

There's no timetable to do so, however.

"We'll see," Hill said. "As with anything else, you review things when you think they're ready to be reviewed."

Utah men's basketball coach Larry Krystkowiak was pleased to hear that the logo will continue to be used. He considers it one of the coolest logos in sports.

Krystkowiak has an appreciation for Native American things and has a lot of Western art. He grew up about 60 miles from the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in Montana.

"I went on a field trip there when I was in about third or fourth grade and I've wanted to be a Blackfoot Indian my whole life," Krystkowiak said. "So that kind of thing is great for me."

Althugh, Krystkowiak also thinks the block "U" is great, he'd "hands down" pick the drum and feather if he had to chose one.

"I think it's cool. I'd love to have it out there in the middle of our floor," Krystkowiak said. "But when things can change quickly I don't think we want to put anything too permanent that becomes really costly to change it."

Continued use of the logo met with the approval of basketball players Jason Washburn and Josh Watkins.

"I love the drum and feather. I think it defines this university," Washburn said. "… Anyone who watches me play knows I've got a lot of pride in being at Utah. I love everything about it, including that logo and I'm glad they're keeping it around."

Watkins, the lone senior on the active roster, noted that he likes anything with a "U" on it.

"It's in my blood. I like anything," Watkins said before discussing the drum and feather. "That's a good logo. That's been the logo since I got here and I'm fine with it."

Utah's athletic teams have been known as the "Utes" since 1971 when the term "Redskins" was dropped as one of the school's nicknames. Several universities and sports teams since then have dropped similar names offensive to Native Americans, but the U. has had approval from the Ute Tribal Council to use the name "Utes."

Since the KSL report last weekend, a petition "Keep the Drum and Feather!" was started by Utah fans and had close to 5,000 online signatures by mid-day Tuesday when the U. made its announcement.

Contributing: Mike Sorensen

email: dirk@desnews.com

twitter: @DirkFacer

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