Attempted Stingray Takeover

The Short Life of the Armstrong Stingrays

Ruffled feathers, rankled students and disappointment were the result of a short-lived new mascot, the Armstrong Stingrays, announced via a press conference on the campus in May 1994. Students, who felt they had not been included in the deliberations leading to the change of mascot, engaged in a "hubbub," in the words of Bob Strozier (pictured above), then Armstrong State College director of public relations, in a letter to President Robert Burnett.

Students argued that the new mascot gave the school an unflattering acronym. School colors were also changed from maroon and gold to maroon, silver and aquatic blue, as reported by the Inkwell in May 25 1994, which devoted half the issue to the controversy.

The Associated Press picked up the story resulting in numerous stories published regionally and national, including Insight Magazine out of Washington D.C. Locally, the Savannah News-Press published at least one news story, two editorial cartoons and several letters to the editor addressing the mascot change.

Some argued publicly that administrators might have bowed to the pressure of having a more politically correct mascot at a time when the use of the term "politically correct" had reached widespread use in American culture.

Opposition to the Stingray was strong and many students came out in defense of the Pirates and their historic ties to the city of Savannah. A call-in poll conducted by the Savannah News-Press showed an overwhelming support for the Pirate mascot of 96 percent against 4 percent for the Stingrays.

As the controversy simmered, President Burnett formed a mascot committee to review the process that led to the change and make recommendations. The Armstrong Stingrays chapter closed nearly four and a half months later with a memo from President Burnett in response to the committee's recommendations. In his memo he wrote: "I recommend to you that Armstrong retain the Pirate as its athletic mascot. The support of the pirate as an athletic symbol was overwhelming, if not unanimous, following the announcement of a mascot change."