Sunday, July 10, 2005

Marquette Nickname Conspiracy?

A post on Rivals.com repeats a conspiracy theory about why Marquette did not return to “Warriors” that has been going around for a long time.
Very long story short, MU needed money badly in the early 1990s for lots of things. To buy and build apartments, to build athletic fields, to increase campus safety and DPS presence etc. The story goes, that MU wanted the land that is now Valley Fields but was in a bidding war with the Potawatomi for it. There was simply no way MU could afford to outbid them, but luckily for them Mayor John Norquist was dead set against the Potawatomi having the land, for fear of riverboat gambling. So in long discussions he struck a deal that would get MU the land, and make a few of the Potawatomi higher ups happy. The Potawatomi would give MU multiple millions of dollars to purchase, build and maintain Valley Fields...to further construction and upkeep of Campus Town....to buy the apartments on Wells St.(Holton, Frenn etc)...and to increase the amount DPS patrol cars and expand the LIMO program. All MU had to do for this very generous gift, was dump the Warriors name and NEVER go back to it. They couldn’t just change the logo, the Warriors had to go bye-bye. Should MU ever decide to go back to the name, they have two options. They can either repay the tribe all of the money they were loaned, or they can sign over ownership of the various property to the tribe.

There is, at least according to a few BOT guys I know, an official document that lays out all of this for the BOT’s eyes only...when the issue was first brought up Fr. Wild was hoping to get around it, or at least convince the tribe to change the deal, but they were not willing. There’s also a confidentiality agreement, if anyone from MU leaks the information to the press, they have to pay back the money.

I’m not saying this as gospel, but I’ve heard it multiple times from many people that were higher ups in the university at the time. And I’m not the only one, there’s been multiple discussions of it in the past, each with a little different twist, but the same general theme.
We decided to ask Brigid O’Brien, of Marquette’s Public Affairs office, to respond to this, pretty much knowing what the response would be. She replied:
This is untrue. There was not an agreement with the Potawatomi tribe regarding the nickname issue.
Like most conspiracy theories, this is a lot of fun to believe, and it would provide an explanation for behavior on the part of the Administration that otherwise looks feckless and inept.

But in the end, we don’t believe it.

As we have already observed:
We are skeptical about this because, in the first place, we think the Potawatomi are too venal to care about an issue like a team nickname. And in the second place, the theory is just too darn complicated, requiring an elaborate burlesque of consulting with the tribes while the real action was a super secret back channel strategy with the Potawatomi.
It’s tempting to conclude that “where there’s smoke, there’s fire.” But in reality, there isn’t any smoke here. Just a lot of supposition.

The fact that some very sane and intelligent people believe it doesn’t really make it plausible. It is, like most conspiracy theories, good but useless fun.

What we saw on the part of the Administration is really, truely, what we got: political correctness, ineptness and arrogance.

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