Susquehanna University is facing backlash for its announcement this week that it is dropping the name “Crusaders” from its athletic teams. University officials said they did not think the name was unifying for the campus and might offend some people. But many alumni are objecting, saying the college is ignoring its own history. At some colleges and high schools, variations of the nickname are a reference to the military campaigns against Muslims in the Middle East in the Middle Ages. But at Susquehanna, the name “Crusaders” has a different meaning.
As described on the university's website: “The nickname ‘Crusaders’ was adopted in the 1920s when a new athletics director, Luther Grossman, inaugurated a new athletics policy at the university. In the years following World War I, Susquehanna became briefly embroiled in ‘big-time’ intercollegiate football, which in those days involved importing players who, strictly speaking, were neither students nor amateurs. Grossman, however, was determined that SU field football teams that were truly representative of the student body and, furthermore, that an extensive intramurals program be developed to offer all SU students some opportunity to engage in athletic competition. Grossman’s campaign was termed a ‘Crusade,’ hence the nickname ‘Crusaders.’”