Ole Miss to retire Colonel Reb merchandise

By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal

OXFORD – The University of Mississippi may have a new way to minimize the presence of Colonel Reb, the mascot that some see as beloved and benign but others see as a throwback to a plantation mentality.
Ole Miss removed the Colonel Rebel mascot from its sidelines in 2003, saying his presence was divisive. Ole Miss students voted in February to take part in a process to develop a new on-field mascot.
To keep control of the Colonel Reb trademark, the school has actually had to license the sale of merchandise with the logo, but its ongoing popularity frustrates administrations that have sought to distance the university from the character.
The College Licensing Co. stated last week that the image may be licensed only through Aug. 31, at which time Colonel Reb will enter the “College Vault” program along with other logos from colleges and universities, bowls and rivalries, under which it will be licensed only for special-occasion historical use.
“My understanding is that we’ll continue to license the use of him enough that we can still have control of the trademark,” said Donna Gurley, associate university attorney. “It’s going to be pretty limited use.”
The administration’s unsigned blog, Ole Miss Point of View, says, “Because Colonel Reb is a mark we wish to own as university property to prevent its inappropriate use by others and to avoid confusing consumers and Ole Miss supporters, we are going to reclassify the mark as ‘historical’ and add it to our college ‘vault.’”
The same blog entry notes that on-campus sales of Colonel Reb items will cease with current inventory. Merchandise with the famous logo has been drastically curtailed on the Ole Miss Bookstore Web site compared with just a few weeks ago.
University officials hope a new mascot will fill the vacuum.
“Once we identify a new mascot, we’ll quickly see what our licensees want to do with it,” said Clay Jones, director of human resources and contractual services.

Contact Errol Castens at (662) 281-1069 or errol.castens@djournal.com.