Las Vegas Sun

September 2, 2014

Currently: 90° — Complete forecast | Log in | Create an account

ASK MR. SUN:

Why are the UNLV sports teams represented by a Confederate rebel?

Mascot Hey Reb is a remnant of UNLV's identification with the Confederacy, a result of its start as a branch of that university in the North.

Mascot Hey Reb is a remnant of UNLV's identification with the Confederacy, a result of its start as a branch of that university in the North.

Sun archives

Why are the UNLV sports teams represented by a Confederate rebel?

•••

Hey Reb, the hat-wearing, square-chinned, mustachioed mascot, isn’t a rebel of the Confederacy. UNLV cut ties with its Old South symbolism in the 1970s, after students protested its racist connotations.

Before that, however, UNLV drew liberally on the symbols of the Confederacy. The original mascot was Beauregard, a cartoon wolf clad in a Confederate gray military jacket and cap. The student government — now the Consolidated Students of the University of Nevada — was originally the Confederated Students of the University of Nevada. And, for a time, the football team’s helmets were emblazoned with a Rebel flag.

To understand why UNLV students cast themselves as rebels, it helps to understand the civil war being waged in state politics when Southern Nevada’s university was founded, in 1957. The school, which began as a “branch” of the University of Nevada, in Reno, had to fight the political power of the north to become autonomous.

“Although UNLV dropped its Confederate mascot, the school’s colors and the Rebel nickname endured,” wrote UNLV history professor Eugene Moehring in “The University of Nevada, Las Vegas: A History.” “After all, ‘rebel’ stood for much more than a supporter of the Civil War against the Union ... Most of all, in Southern Nevada it stood for those who had opposed northern domination in the state Legislature and unwanted dependency upon Reno.”

Questions for Mr. Sun should be sent to [email protected].

Join the Discussion:

Check this out for a full explanation of our conversion to the LiveFyre commenting system and instructions on how to sign up for an account.

Full comments policy

Previous Discussion: comments so far…

Comments are moderated by Las Vegas Sun editors. Our goal is not to limit the discussion, but rather to elevate it. Comments should be relevant and contain no abusive language. Comments that are off-topic, vulgar, profane or include personal attacks will be removed. Full comments policy. Additionally, we now display comments from trusted commenters by default. Those wishing to become a trusted commenter need to verify their identity or sign in with Facebook Connect to tie their Facebook account to their Las Vegas Sun account. For more on this change, read our story about how it works and why we did it.

Only trusted comments are displayed on this page. Untrusted comments have expired from this story.

No trusted comments have been posted.