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Carthage mulls changing nickname, mascot
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Carthage mulls changing nickname, mascot

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Carthage C logo

JEFFREY ZAMPANTI

jzampanti@kenoshanews.com

Carthage College’s long history as the Redmen, and most recently the Red Men, may soon be over.

The school’s Board of Trustees recently assembled a task force to evaluate renaming the athletic department’s Red Men and Lady Reds, Carthage president John Swallow announced on Thursday.

Carthage’s mascot Torchie — who symbolizes a flame of knowledge — might be cheering at his final football game as well.

Carthage changed from Redmen to Red Men in 2005 when the NCAA deemed the school’s nickname and Indian logo to be hostile and offensive.

NCAA policy doesn’t require schools to change their mascots, logos or nicknames. However, it bars the use of Indian imagery during postseason tournaments and bans schools that use that imagery from hosting postseason play.

Carthage switched to a plain “C” logo instead of its traditional “C” with attached feathers.

“Since I have arrived, there have been questions (about the nickname),” said Swallow, who was named Carthage’s 23rd president in May 2017. “Some were concerned that even if the history doesn’t show this, there’s a perception that there’s a connection with Native Americans.”

The history

The school adopted the Redmen nickname decades before its 1962 relocation from Carthage, Ill., to Kenosha. Swallow said the nickname was not associated with Native Americans in any way, but rather a response to Carthage’s rival: Illinois College Blue Boys.

Carthage students are universally known as Carthaginians.

The mascot controversy exists for many schools and professional teams. Native Americans have long questioned the name and image of the Washington Redskins of the National Football League. Some find it derogatory, while supporters believe it honors the history and accomplishments of Native Americans.

In 1994, Marquette University’s athletic program changed from the Warriors to the Golden Eagles.

Swallow said the 16-member task force — chaired by 1999 Carthage graduate Thomas J. Kelley III — will decide if it’s in Carthage’s best interest to change its nickname, logo and mascot. Those in favor of making the switch point toward choosing one nickname suitable for both the men’s and women’s teams.

Torchie may be out

While Torchie has lit a flame under Carthage fans for years, members of the coaching staff believe it’s time for change.

“I want to make sure we have a positive connection with as many people as possible,” Swallow said. “Whether we should change or not, I’m happy to receive that recommendation from the task force.”

Members of the task force include Kelley, Mary Bishop, Andy Boncher, the Rev. Dr. Paul D. Erickson, Gina Madrigrano Friebus, Abigail Hanna, Hoyt H. Harper, Thomas Kline, Frederick Krull, Cassie Lau, Brady Lindsley, Michelle Manning, Andrew S. Palmen and Leanne Ulmer. There will also be two students named to the committee.

There is no timetable for the decision, according to Swallow.

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