Fitzhugh floats Lady Vols as issue for legislature, guber campaign

State House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh will bring his campaign for governor to the University of Tennessee Knoxville campus Friday and announce that he’s filing a legislative resolution urging the school to reinstate the Lady Vols name, reports the News Sentinel.

Fitzhugh.. said he plans to introduce the nonbinding resolution during the 2018 session and, if elected governor and de facto chair of the UT Board of Trustees, he will put the resolution before the university’s governing board.

Former UT Chancellor Jimmy Cheek and former Athletic Director Dave Hart announced in 2014 a decision to drop the long-used ‘Lady Vols’ moniker for all women’s sports except basketball.  The decision immediately prompted a backlash from fans and former athletes, but the administrators stood their ground. Both have since retired. 

Chancellor Beverly Davenport told the USA Today Network-Tennessee in an interview last week that she “deeply values” the Lady Vols legacy and the name, but did not commit to a decision on its future.

…Petitions that began in 2014 asking the university to return to the Lady Vols logo for all women’s sports have garnered more than 28,000 signatures as of February.

…Fitzhugh said he was aware of the perception that the General Assembly wants to interfere with the day-to-day operations of its flagship campus, but insists that’s not his intent. 

“I must say, I’ve thought long and hard about that because I’m not one of those who want to micromanage the university, nor have I ever wanted to, but this is a nonbinding resolution that will do nothing but give the will of the legislative body responsible for the university,” he said. “I don’t think there’s ever been a resolution proposed … so this just to put that before the Legislature this year and see what they say.”

Because the governor is also the chair of the UT Board of Trustees, Fitzhugh said he thinks it’s important that candidate state their position on the matter. 

Fitzhugh is opposed by former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean in the Democratic gubernatorial primary. There are five candidates for the GOP nomination so far.

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