By Bobby Harrison
JACKSON – Legislation that would revive Colonel Reb at the University of Mississippi is dead – for now.
The bill, authored by Rep. Mark DuVall, D-Mantchie, died Tuesday when House Universities and Colleges Chair Kelvin Buck, D-Holly Springs, did not bring it up for consideration.
Tuesday was the deadline for general bills to be passed out of committee in the originating chamber. Most key pieces of legislation have been passed in one chamber or the other and will be considered by the full House or Senate in the coming days.
Most of the proposals that died Tuesday were novelty bills that had little or no support.
While DuVall’s bill died, the issue may still be alive in the Legislature.
“I will look at other opportunities,” said DuVall. He said he might try to amend a bill on the House floor, perhaps an appropriations bill, to include it.
DuVall’s bill would require the return of Colonel Reb, the on-field mascot who drew comparisons by some to a Southern plantation owner. The mascot was retired in 2003. This past year the University adopted the Rebel Black Bear as its official on-field mascot.
DuVall’s bill also would require the University to keep Rebel as its official nickname. Ole Miss officials have made no attempt to remove the Rebel nickname.
The bill also would require Ole Miss to play “Dixie” and “To Dixie with Love” at sporting events. The university has continued to play a version of “Dixie,” but stopped playing “To Dixie with Love” because some fans would chant “the South would rise again” at the end of the song.
Buck said he killed the legislation because “to me this is an individual university issue. Maybe IHL should look at it. But it is not something we should be doing – dictating a mascot.”
Buck did confirm he received an online petition for the return of Colonel Reb that claimed to have the support of 4,000 Ole Miss students.