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Rainbows vs. Warriors debate heats up

By Andrew Pereira
Published On: May 02 2013 07:32:51 PM HST
Updated On: May 03 2013 11:15:34 AM HST

Some influential people are asking the University of Hawaii to press pause on a controversial name change.

HONOLULU -

For former University of Hawaii basketball player Alika Smith, Rainbow Warriors is part of his DNA.

"I gave my blood, sweat and tears for four years as a Rainbow and I love the name Rainbow.  I'll always be a Rainbow and I think it just fits for this community, the state of Hawaii," said Smith.

Members of the UH Manoa Letterwinners Club claim athletics director Ben Jay assured them at a January meeting that changing the men's basketball, baseball, swim and dive teams nickname to 'Warriors' would not be a hasty move.

However, the next thing they knew, it was a done deal with Jay announcing the name change a few weeks later.

After weeks of what they say was no response, the Letterwinners took action Wednesday in the form of a letter asking Jay not to close the door on the 'Rainbow' legacy.

"We're actually asking him to take a pause, keep everything the way it is and to work with the groups involved over time and maybe we'll come to some agreement," said Rep. Mark Takai.

Jay refused comment Thursday, but directed news media to a letter he wrote Wednesday to disgruntled 'Rainbow' fan Steve Chinen.

"In essence, we are not 'making' a decision to adopt the Warrior nickname for our men's sports," Jay wrote.  "We are basically 'finishing' the decision made 13 years ago, so that our brand identity is clear and unified."

"The brand that we have for athletics, from my perspective, is the 'H' and the 'H' is a very strong brand under which the word 'Hawaii' is everything," said Takai.

"People may revolt and not go to a lot of games, and I think that'll be sad for the state and the kids," said Smith.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie noted Jay is doing a terrific job as AD, but like many UH fans, the gov is old school.

"For me it's 'Go Bows!'" said Abercrombie.  "And Rainbow Warriors, that's fine with me," he added

Friday evening from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., a Rally for Rainbows event will be held at Bachman Hall on the Manoa campus.  The goal is to urge UH officials not to go through with the name change.

"At the end of the day, I think he should reconsider and at least listen to others," said Smith.

The name change doesn't become official until July 1.

Jay has also said he wants uniformity in how UH teams look, noting that the school's colors are green and white.

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