TOLEDO, OH - The University of Toledo and Bowling Green State University jointly announced the introduction of a new Battle of I-75 Trophy to be presented annually to the winner of the football game between the two schools.
The trophy, sponsored by Taylor Kia Automotive Group, will replace the Peace Pipe Trophy that had been used in the football rivalry since 1980. The new Battle of I-75 Trophy was designed by Jeff Artz, who also designed the Biletnikoff Award Trophy, which is given annually to the top collegiate wide receiver in the country. The Peace Pipe Trophy will be permanently housed in the UT football trophy case as the Rockets won the most recent battle for the Peace Pipe, a 33-14 victory in 2010.
The two Mid-American Conference rivals have been playing each other in football since 1919 and will meet again at noon on Saturday, Oct. 15 at Doyt L. Perry Stadium in Bowling Green. The two campuses are located just 25 miles apart, with most of that distance covered by I-75, the highway that runs from northern Michigan to Miami, FL.
The schools agreed to change the trophy after conversations with members of the Native-American community. Taken into consideration was the spiritual symbolism of the peace pipe to the Native-American community, as well as the NCAA's initiative to remove inappropriate Native American nicknames and symbols associated with member's athletic teams.
"After discussing the issue with Native American leaders, as well as with BGSU athletic director Greg Christopher, we felt it was best to discontinue awarding the Peace Pipe to the winner of our annual football contest," said UT Athletic Director Mike O'Brien. "We also felt this decision was consistent with the NCAA's position regarding the use of Native American nicknames and symbolism. We look forward to a new chapter in our great football rivalry with the Falcons. We think the Battle of I-75 Trophy will serve as a great symbol for this rivalry for years to come."
Said BGSU athletic director Greg Christopher, "Our fans, teams and the media have been identifying with the 'Battle of I-75' for several years so the name change will connect immediately. Mike O'Brien and I considered the sensitivity and we know this is the right thing to do. We are thrilled with the new trophy and it looks terrific. I would like to thank Jeff Artz for the work he did in creating an outstanding piece."
Diane Bishop, the director of the Native American Women's Alliance (NAWA) and a University of Toledo graduate, said the discontinuation the Peace Pipe Trophy was a positive step toward combating Native American stereotypes.
"I applaud both the University of Toledo and Bowling Green State University for their open dialogue regarding concerns about the Peace Pipe Trophy, and their voluntarily discontinuing a trophy that perpetuated a stereotype of the past," said Bishop. "Dialogue and education are the roads to understanding, and both universities led the way with their quick and respectful response regarding this issue."
History of the Peace Pipe Trophy
The Peace Pipe tradition began in 1948 as a token of goodwill with the student newspaper from the winning school keeping the pipe until the renewal of the tradition the following basketball season. Unfortunately, the tradition came to an abrupt end in 1969 when an unidentified person stole the pipe from its resting place in the UT Collegian's office. The thief was never caught, nor was the pipe ever recovered.
The tradition was reinstated in 1980 for football with a miniature peace pipe replica resting atop a trophy created by Frank Kralik, a former UT football player, as an award for the winner of the annual gridiron battle between the Rockets and the Falcons.
Other comments about the new Battle of I-75 Trophy and the discontinuation of the Peace Pipe Trophy
"I think the new Battle of I-75 Trophy looks great and is a excellent representation of the rivalry between our schools. I'm excited for a new era in one of the top rivalries in the country."
- - UT head football coach Tim Beckman
"I feel having a new trophy is the right thing to do. If Native Americans felt disrespected by the Peace Pipe trophy, then we should honor their wishes. They've been around a lot longer than the Peace Pipe."
- - UT senior running back Adonis Thomas
"I'm big on respect, so if Native Americans feel disrespected by the Peace Pipe trophy, then I feel changing it is the right thing to do."
- - UT senior cornerback Desmond Marrow