LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) _ Texas Tech has banned the sale of a T-shirt featuring a drawing of a football player dangling Texas A’M’s dog mascot by her leash.
The red shirts, with black text reading “VICK ‘EM” on the front in a reference to the Aggies’ slogan “Gig ’em,” were created by a Tech student who said he has sold roughly 300 of the shirts through his fraternity ahead of Saturday’s game against Texas A’M in Lubbock.
Geoffrey Candia, the creator of the shirts, told The Associated Press he and his Theta Chi fraternity were taking full responsibility and would sell no more of the shirts.
“We realize the shirts shouldn’t have been printed,” he said.
The back shows a football player, wearing Michael Vick’s No. 7, hanging the mascot Reveille from the end of her leash. The suspended NFL quarterback has pleaded guilty to a federal dogfighting charge, admitting that he helped kill six to eight dogs.
“We will not permit individual students or any student organization to profit from selling merchandise on campus that is derogatory, inflammatory, insensitive, or in such bad taste that it reflects negatively on this fine institution, its students, athletic teams, alumni or faculty,” school president Jon Whitmore said in a statement released by the school Tuesday afternoon.
The school also suspended the fraternity and plans to bring charges against it under the university’s code of student conduct. The statement also said that the company making the shirts had stopped printing them.
“You can’t make light of a situation like that,” Texas Tech media relations spokesman Chris Cook said. “That is in poor taste and poor judgment.”
A’M officials, in a statement, thanked Tech administrators for “their response and action regarding this matter.”
Candia told The Battalion, A’M’s newspaper, that the university prohibited sale of the shirts on campus through his fraternity. He said he wanted to give 50 percent of the proceeds to a Lubbock animal defense league “because we knew there would be a controversy about the shirts, you know, animal rights, stuff like that.”
Candia told the newspaper about 300 had been sold.
In a posting on his Facebook page at about 4 a.m. Tuesday, Candia wrote: “a little tshirt get aggies all worked up… its a t-shirt people!”
The controversy comes about 21?2 months after Gerald Myers, Tech’s athletic director, announced a campaign to promote good sportsmanship across the campus and at athletic events. The campaign centers around the phrase “honor, respect, pride and tradition.”
Myers did not immediately return a call seeking comment Tuesday.
Robyn Katz, president of Tech’s chapter of the Student Animal Legal Defense Fund, said her organization “wouldn’t take a dime” from Candia.
“If he really wanted to help promote anti-animal cruelty then he would donate time” at a no-kill shelter,” she said. “He’s really doing the Tech community a disservice. There’s plenty of other ways to promote a rivalry.”
Hostility between the two schools is nothing new.
In 1999, after a Tech football victory in Lubbock, Red Raiders fans pelted Aggies players with batteries and taunts. Tech fans tore down the goalposts and paraded them past the Aggies’ bus.
In 2001, about 1,000 Tech celebrants again tore down the goalposts, marched them the length of the field and pushed them into the A’M section of the stadium. Aggies threw ice and a skirmish ensued.
Then there were the tortillas. In 1992, Tech fans began tossing them like Frisbees onto the field during games. A year later, hundreds of tortillas – many carrying unprintable messages – were thrown during an A’M game.
The rivalry is not confined to the gridiron. Controversy followed two men’s basketball games that A’M won in Lubbock.
In 1994, after a one-point, last-second decision, a jumble of punches and pushes broke out between the exiting Aggies and angry Tech fans. Aggies coach Tony Barone and two of his players ultimately paid $5,000 to settle a lawsuit stemming from the fight.
In a January 2000 game, referees counted A’M’s shot in the final second to give the Aggies an 88-86 win. Then they overturned it. Then they overturned it again, giving the victory back to A’M.
Associated Press writer Chris Duncan in College Station, Texas, contributed to this report.