University of South Alabama seeks to ban basketball cheer

Published: Thursday, September 30, 2010
Renee Busby, Press-Register

MOBILE, Ala. — South Alabama’s cheerleaders won’t be shouting “USA, South in your mouth!” when the university’s basketball teams sink free throws this year.

Whether fans still yell it is another question.

Athletic Director Joel Erdmann said he asked the cheerleading coach to consider phasing out the cheer “due to the ambiguity of the expression.”

Erdmann said that his intent was “in no way trying to take the enthusiasm and excitement out of our crowd, but to avoid any misinterpretation.”

“If anything, they just assured it will be around until the end of time,” said student government president Kim Proctor.

Proctor described the cheer as a tradition that students chant with pride while holding up one finger to signify the extra point.

“It’s just school spirit,” she said.

The men’s basketball season opens Nov. 12 against cross-town rival Spring Hill College, while the women’s team begins Nov. 11 against the University of West Florida.

Erdmann, who worked in the USA athletic department from 1995 to 2002, said he never heard the cheer until he returned in 2009 as athletic director.

It’s “a reasonable thought to not have a spirit group leading a cheer that potentially could be perceived by some as offensive,” he said.

He said he asked the cheerleading coach to replace it with more “appropriate” cheers.

Proctor said she doesn’t feel the USA cheer is anymore offensive than the University of Alabama’s cheer “Rammer Jammer Yellowhammer, give ‘em hell, Alabama” or Auburn University’s “War Damn Eagle.”

Rammer Jammer was banned at Alabama football games in the late 1980s and again during the 1994 season, but was eventually brought back.

“It’s kind of like stifling our right to cheer and right to speak,” said USA sophomore Madison Salter, past president of USA’s Outlaws, a cheering group that sits together at sporting events.

She said that the Outlaws had planned to print the cheer on their game day T-shirts.

Salter said that the cheer is such a part of her routine at games she doesn’t know if she can stop yelling it.

“It’s part of who I am and supporting my team,” she said.

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