A group of Kansas University athletes is hoping a popular T-shirt that disparages the University of Missouri will disappear from the stands at Allen Fieldhouse next basketball season.
KU's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee says it hopes to create and distribute a T-shirt in coming months that will become more popular than the widely worn "Muck Fizzou" shirt. The shirt remains a popular choice of attire for games - even when KU isn't playing Missouri - despite attempts to discourage students from wearing it.
"We're the University of Kansas, and we're classy. We're better than that, quite frankly," said Matt Baysinger, a member of the KU track and field team who is leading a committee to find and promote an alternative to the T-shirt.
When ESPN came to the Fieldhouse earlier this season for the Missouri game, the crew members had trouble finding students to put on camera because they didn't want to show the T-shirt. During the game, the ESPN crew asked the athletic department to make an announcement asking students to turn the shirts inside-out, but the department declined to announce it, associate athletic director Jim Marchiony said.
Days later, Scott Winer, a KU junior who was in the ESPN truck during the Missouri game, wrote a letter to the editor of the University Daily Kansan asking students to think twice about wearing the shirt.
"ESPN comes to one of the most storied arenas in all of college basketball to kick off a week dedicated to student spirit, and it can't even show most of the students in the crowd," Winer wrote.
Marchiony called the shirt "distasteful."
"We don't want it in our arena," he said.
Marchiony said that even though the department opposes the shirt, the recent effort to discourage people from wearing it began with the students, not the administration.
The slogan is ubiquitous on campus. Even the student newspaper has printed it on shirts.
"For a short time a couple of years ago, we sold some that had the Kansan logo on the sleeve," said Malcolm Gibson, general manager of the Kansan. "It was a one-time thing for us, and we don't plan to do it again."
Many of the shirts come from Joe-College.com, 734 Mass., whose owner, Larry Sinks, is involved in a lawsuit filed by KU alleging some of his shirts infringe on the school's trademark. Sinks said he first printed a version of the T-shirt in the 1980s, then stopped until about six years ago. Since he set up his shop downtown a year ago, he's sold about 700 of the T-shirts.
Sinks said it was "ridiculous" for KU leaders to discourage people from wearing the shirt.
"They're trying to control everybody in this town," he said.
Even though the "Muck Fizzou" design is one of the shirts KU has asked Sinks to stop printing, Marchiony said that shirt isn't KU's main concern in its lawsuit against Sinks. The lawsuit is still in the discovery phase.
"That's not the shirt we're after," Marchiony said. "We're after things like 'Kansas Swim Team' with sperm on it."