Texas Tech bans T-shirt of Vick likeness hanging Texas A&M's dog mascot

Updated: October 9, 2007, 6:40 PM ET
Associated Press

LUBBOCK, Texas -- Texas Tech has banned the sale of a T-shirt bearing the likeness of Michael Vick hanging the dog mascot of rival Texas A&M.

The red and black shirts, with text that says "VICK 'EM" on the front in an apparent reference to the Aggies' slogan "Gig 'em," was created by a Tech student who was trying to sell them before Saturday's game in Lubbock.

The back of the shirt shows a football player wearing the No. 7 Vick jersey holding a rope with an image of the mascot Reveille at the end of a noose. Vick, who faces up to five years in prison after pleading guilty to a federal dogfighting charge, is suspended indefinitely by the NFL.

Tech officials late Tuesday announced the fraternity that sold the shirts was suspended temporarily and will face judicial review for allegedly violating the solicitation section of the students' code of conduct.

The school said it wouldn't allow the sale on campus of items that are "derogatory, inflammatory, insensitive, or in such bad taste."

No more shirts are being produced, the school said in a release.

A&M officials, in a statement, thanked Tech administrators for "their response and action regarding this matter."

Geoffrey Candia, the creator of the shirts who is with the Theta Chi fraternity, told The Associated Press they were taking full responsibility. "We realize the shirts shouldn't have been printed," he said.

He told The Battalion, A&M's newspaper, for Tuesday's editions that the university prohibited sale of the shirts on campus through his fraternity. He said he originally had wanted to give 50 percent of the proceeds to an animal defense league in Lubbock "because we knew there would be a controversy about the shirts, you know, animal rights, stuff like that."

Candia told the newspaper about 300 had been sold. He had hoped 500 would be sold before Saturday's game.

In a posting on his Facebook site at about 4 a.m. Tuesday, Candia wrote: "a little tshirt get aggies all worked up... its a t-shirt people!"

The controversy comes about 2½ months after Gerald Myers, Tech's athletic director, announced a campaign to promote good sportsmanship across the campus and at athletic events. The words used in the effort are honor, respect, pride and tradition.

Myers did not immediately return a call seeking comment Tuesday.

"You can't make light of a situation like that," Tech media relations spokesman Chris Cook said. "That is in poor taste and poor judgment."

Robyn Katz, president of Tech's chapter of the Student Animal Legal Defense Fund, said her organization "wouldn't take a dime" from Candia.

"If he really wanted to help promote anti-animal cruelty then he would donate time" at a no-kill shelter," she said. "He's really doing the Tech community a disservice. There's plenty of other ways to promote a rivalry."

Hostility between the two schools is nothing new.

In 1999, after a Tech football victory, Red Raiders fans pelted Aggies players with batteries and taunts. Tech fans tore down the goalposts and paraded them past the Aggies' bus.

In 2001, about 1,000 Tech celebrants tore down the goalposts, marched them the length of the field and pushed them into the A&M section of the stadium. Aggies threw ice and a skirmish ensued.

Then there were the tortillas. In 1992, Tech fans began tossing them like Frisbees onto the field during games. A year later, hundreds of tortillas -- many carrying unprintable messages -- were thrown during an A&M game.

The rivalry is not confined to the gridiron. Controversy followed two men's basketball games that A&M won in Lubbock.

In 1994, after a one-point, last-second decision, a jumble of punches and pushes broke out between the exiting Aggies and angry Tech fans. Aggie coach Tony Barone and two of his players ultimately paid $5,000 to settle a lawsuit stemming from the fight.

In January 2000, referees counted A&M's shot in the final second to give the Aggies an 88-86 win. Then they overturned it. Then they overturned it again, giving the victory to A&M.


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press