“Gender Neutral” Nicknames Now the Norm in College Sports
On Wednesday, July 1, The University of Tennessee became the latest school to go gender neutral with its nickname. The exception is women's basketball, which will continue to use "Lady Vols" in homage to longtime coach Pat Summitt, who has won more games than anyone in the history of college basketball.
The number of teams using a gender specific name for women's sports has been steadily dwindling for many years. Some schools considered the term "Lady" to be sexist. For other schools, a consistent brand made more economic sense with a consistency in uniforms, logos, etc.
The Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns quit using "Lady" many years ago, although many fans don't know that fact.
Schools in Power Five conferences that use gender specific nicknames include:
Baylor - Uses Lady Bears nickname only for women's basketball.
Georgia - Uses Lady Bulldogs nickname for women's basketball, swimming, track and cross country. Calls its women's gymnastics team the Gym Dogs.
LSU and Texas Tech - LSU uses Lady Tigers and Texas Tech uses Lady Raiders for women's sports that have a direct male counterpart (such as basketball, golf, tennis).
Oklahoma State - Calls all its women's teams the Cowgirls.
Penn State - Uses Lady Lions only for women's basketball.
Only five other schools which play FBS football have gender specific nicknames
East Carolina (Eagles, Lady Eagles), Hawai'i (Rainbow Warriors, Rainbow Wahine), Louisiana Tech (Bulldogs, Lady Techsters) WKU (Hilltoppers, Lady Toppers) and Wyoming (Cowboys, Cowgirls)
Besides Louisiana Tech, five other Louisiana universities (Southeastern, Northwestern State, Grambling State, Southern, McNeese State) use gender specific names.
UT Arlington, a non football school in the Sun Belt, uses Lady Mavericks in basketball only.
And, that brings us back to UL. What? No Lady Cajuns?
Ragin' Cajuns athletics are gender neutral. And, they have been for about fifteen years now. The movement away from gender specific names came about around 2001 when coaches of women's teams requested the movement away from "Lady Cajuns." There was no big announcement, as Tennessee made a couple of weeks ago. In fact, many fans didn't even notice the change and have continued to use "Lady" especially as it pertains to softball.
"We've been gender neutral since before I got here," Scott Farmer, UL Athletics Director said. "We did issue a 'what to call us' release around 2008 or so, asking folks not to use Lafayette or ULL, and that Louisiana's Ragin' Cajuns was preferred. In that release, we had one sentence that said our nickname was gender neutral."
You'll still hear fans refer to women's programs, especially softball, as Lady Cajuns. But you won't hear the school or the coaches do that.
The nickname is Ragin' Cajuns. For ALL sports..