Sunday, February 21, 2016

When UNC-CH and UNC-R meet...

Sunday's pregame scoreboard at Carmichael Arena (Photo from
In 1962, when NC State College expanded its graduate school offerings, it wanted to change its name to NC State University. The UNC Consolidated System, which governs all state-supported schools in the state, not only said "no," but told the school that it had to change its name to UNC-Raleigh.

1964 game program from Reynolds Coliseum.
It's what Governor Terry Sanford and system president William Friday wanted.

State College's campus was outraged and students, administration and alumni began to protest with the system offices in Chapel Hill and the general assembly in Raleigh. The battle raged on for almost three years, as both parties grudgingly accepted an awkward compromise, calling the state's second oldest institution North Carolina State of the University of North Carolina at Raleigh. That was the official name of the school from 1963-65, though old-timers stuck with "State College" and students of the time just said "NC State."

Eventually, thanks to student- and alumni-led protests to the state legislature, the name was changed to North Carolina State University at Raleigh in April, 1965. That's still the official name of the school today, though the "at Raleigh" is rarely used except in the school's wikipedia entry.

For years, NC State athletics has referred to North Carolina as UNC-CH at home events, on posters, on schedule cards and other places, because, well frankly, that is the abbreviation for the school's official name, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. That was a staple anytime the Tar Heels visited Reynolds Coliseum, or any other NC State home venue.

It's always bugged Carolina. Just a few years ago, a UNC-CH athletics administrator got fist-poundingly angry about it during a men's basketball game at PNC Arena, demanding that the scoreboard be changed. It was, as a gracious gesture to the visiting team.

Sunday, the longstanding chaffed feelings popped up again when the NC State women's basketball traveled to Chapel Hill to play the Tar Heels at Carmichael Arena. They were greeted by a scoreboard that read on the visitors side: UNC-R.

My Facebook and Twitter lines lit up like closing time at Disney World. It was eventually changed, as a gracious gesture to the visiting team, at some point during the Wolfpack's 80-66 victory that completed the first regular-season sweep by women's basketball of UNC-CH since 1999-2000.

The whole thing is kind of humorous. Others are pretty up in arms, which is not surprising in our outrage society. Some State fans even said, "We have never been called UNC-R." That's not at all true. Thankfully, though, that name didn't stick for long thanks to the student and alumni revolt of the 1960s.

Some rivalries die hard. Some never go away. And some rise again from the dead 60 years later.

Though one does wonder: what will be on the scoreboard Wednesday when the North Carolina men's team visits PNC Arena to play the Wolfpack.