Valparaiso Cuts Crusaders Team Name and Mascot Due to Links to Hate Groups Like Ku Klux Klan

The decision comes after a task force inquiry and receiving feedback from the university community

Valparaiso Crusaders flag
A Valparaiso cheerleader waves a Crusaders flag.
Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty

Introduced by Lutheran Indiana school Valparaiso University in 1942, the helmeted Crusader mascot is, like the Crusades themselves, over and done with.

The university put an end to decades of debate about the name, which was a reference to the religious wars that began in the 11th century between Christians and Muslims, by announcing it would retire the mascot and its associated logos over the coming months because Crusader imagery has been embraced and displayed by hate groups including the Ku Klux Klan. The KKK’s official newspaper is also called The Crusader.

“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 in a statement. “The university has carefully evaluated this matter, including establishing a task force to conduct due diligence and garner feedback from the entire campus community, alumni, parents and other key stakeholders. This is the decision that best reflects our values and community. 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.”

The task force Irwin-Knott referenced in her statement was made up of Valparaiso students, faculty, staff, athletics representatives and alumni. It received more than 7,700 responses to a survey that was sent to the campus community, alumni and friends of the school about the mascot.

“I had a positive reaction to the news today, but then I had to ask myself why I had that reaction,” Valparaiso alum and Chicago Bulls television play-by-play announcer Adam Amin, who is Muslim, told The Times of Northwest Indiana. “When I signed up to go to Valpo, I knew what the mascot was. I also knew what the Crusades were and I was well aware of the history involved. I didn’t think this university chose the mascot, goofy looking as it was, out of some level of malice. What I think now, observing the reaction that everyone is having, is it all depends on how important symbolism is to you. If the university is what it is because of the people that work there and the students that go there, then what does it matter what the mascot is? If the symbol that happens to represent the university makes people feel some sort of negative cognition, then change it. What’s the problem with changing it?”

There really isn’t one.

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