Notre Dame forces tornado-hit school to stop using mascot

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally

In 2008, Chapman High School in Kansas was nearly completely demolished by a massive tornado that tore through the town. In all, some 80 percent of the school was knocked down.

Chapman Fighting Irish logo
Chapman Fighting Irish logo

Now, the school is under attack from a less natural threat: the University of Notre Dame. According to the Associated Press, Notre Dame officials are forcing Chapman to stop using the school's popular Fighting Irish mascot. It turns out that Chapman has used the same, curled fisted leprechaun mascot as Notre Dame since 1967, but the college was apparently unaware of the similarities between the two until seeing the Chapman mascot on the school's website this summer.

According to Chapman High principal Kevin Suther, the school received a legal letter from Notre Dame insisting that the school change its mascot, citing Notre Dame's need to enforce its copyright protection of the logo. To be fair, if Notre Dame and other schools don't protect their logo when they find other schools impinging on it, they can have a harder time protecting it later if a corporation tried to use it.

Of course, there are middle grounds that Notre Dame could have taken, such as letting Chapman continue to use the logo for a small, nominal annual fee, as Florida State temporarily did with Florida schools in 2010. That's not the case with Notre Dame and Chapman, which will be allowed to continue calling its athletic teams the Fighting Irish, but will not use the bearded mascot more typically associated with the South Bend, Indiana college.

"Well when you get a letter from Notre Dame it gets your attention," Suther told Kansas CBS affiliate KWCH.

The school's solution was to hold a public contest to pick a new mascot, which should conclude in time to unveil the new selection at the start of the boys basketball season. Still, the school will have to alter any uniforms or facilities that bear the university's trademarked leprechaun mascot so that it isn't in violation of the college's rights.

Considering the fact that the new, post-tornado renovated high school has only been open since January 2011, those renovations would have to be made much sooner than would have otherwise been necessary.

Despite all that, Suther insisted there was no consideration of the school not being the Fighting Irish at any point in the future.

"For anything like stationary and school uniforms as long as its Chapman Fighting Irish, we are still the Fighting Irish," the principal told KWCH.

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