Spartan alums continue to protest proposed logo

msu2 002I waited all day for Tom Izzo’s call about my recent post on the Spartan logo, but online journalists get no respect. Maybe that’s part of MSU’s problem.

Poor John-that’s John Schneider columnist of the Lansing State Journal he handled a call from Tom Izzo. To say John is respected in the community understates his stature. In a run-off for Governor, John would be a front runner in Lansing, but in yesterday’s column in the Lansing State Journal he relates a conversation he had with Tom Izzo about the recent flap on the MSU logo redesign and the subsequent column he wrote about it. In his first column, Schneider let his readers know that a six-minute rant on the logo which Izzo unleashed during his regular weekly press conference might have been fueled by a lucrative contract Izzo has with Nike.

Schneider couldn’t tell us exactly what Izzo said in the conversation since it was off-the- record, but he did characterize it as a “lecture”. Wrong person was on the end of that lecture. Izzo was called by Schneider to respond to the first column, but did not return the phone call. To me that means he missed the chance to present his opinion, even off-the- record.

I think Izzo has missed the point. It’s just not about the money. The coached dissed the alumni in his press conference. Izzo may bleed green and white, as many of his supporters claim, but he is not a Spartan and those disgruntled alums now total more than 57,000 on just one Facebook page opposing the new logo design. That’s an impressive number especially since the MSU paid alumni association membership is only around 35,000.

There is no question that Tom Izzo knows basketball, but he doesn’t know PR 101 or customer relations and the last time I looked the alumni are the customers and the donors. One young MSU alum told me he thinks that MSU missed an opportunity to involve the alums in a new logo design. Here’s an alum who understands new media and the value of crowd-sourcing. A lot of old alums who really do bleed green and white are now routinely asking me to be a Fan of the anti-logo effort on Facebook.

If I was running the show I’d dump the Nike redesign and embrace the tens of thousands of alums who have stepped up to support what they see as tradition. The University might even see a considerable uptick in new alumni members.

Right now it looks like alums versus the swoosh gods and the ultimate winner will not be the University. In his press conference, Coach Izzo said something about the logo having several reiterations over time so it was no big deal to change it. Not going to argue about that, but I also recall that Nike has not always been the equipment sponsor for MSU. Anyone remember what tennis shoes Magic Johnson wore? And I think it’s time for the University and the President to step in and say enough is enough. Frankly, building a wall of angst during a time when the University is facing massive budget deficits is not a good strategy and I think even a basketball coach would understand that.

In the meantime, John Schneider is my hero –he lets everyone take a swing at him without swinging back. I think I’ll send him a birthday card.

Bill Castanier has been an award-wining weekly newspaper editor, advertising and public relations executive in his 40 year career. In addition, he has been an executive with a newspaper trade association and founded Michigan’s first technology association, I-TE@M. He writes a weekly newspaper feature on Michigan authors and is on the Board of the Kerrytown BookFest and the Michigan Notable Book Awards. He has the only daily blog on Michigan literature (Mittenlit) and founded Spartanpodcast.com.

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