“Our football team needs our support right now and that should be our collective focus. With that in mind, I am repealing immediately the policy prohibiting signs, banners and flags in all athletics venues.” So said U.Va. athletics director Craig Littlepage yesterday, admitting that the sign ban had become a “distraction.”
Two possible “distractions” may have prompted the repeal of the sign ban, according to this post on Inside Higher Ed. U.Va. students reportedly planned to protest by wearing blue instead of the officially-promoted “Sea of Orange.”
Moreover, there was the looming threat of litigation. Inside Higher Ed interviewed constitutional lawyer John Whitehead, president of Charlottesville’s Rutherford Institute, who said there is plenty of case law to suggest Virginia was on shaky legal ground with its ban.
“With big bureaucratic organizations like these, they don’t want to get sued,” said Whitehead, whose organization handles free speech cases. “The PR fallout [has been damaging], they’ve been criticized for it, and the legal cases out there say they would lose.”
Another loss is the last thing the U.Va. football program needs right now. The Cavs (1-3) welcome Maryland’s Terps (4-1) tomorrow night at 7. Bring your signs.
By Peter Vieth