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Cathedral High gives up ND logo

Katie Kohler | Thursday, March 22, 2007

After almost 90 years of using Notre Dame’s Leprechaun logo, Cathedral High School in Indianapolis is changing its image – a move strongly supported by Cathedral’s principal, if not its alumni.

Cathedral, whose students have been known as the Fighting Irish since the school’s founding in 1918, will no longer be permitted to use the Leprechaun logo due to the University’s allegation of trademark infringement.

An Indianapolis Star article published on March 16 said Cathedral will stop using the logo, much to the chagrin of many alumni who feel “disowned by their own family,” as Mary Boyle, president of the Cathedral Alumni Association, told the Star.

Dave Worland, Cathedral High School principal, had a more optimistic view of the situation.

“I can understand why some people are upset because it has been part of our identity for so long,” he said in a telephone interview with The Observer.

Worland said he has not experienced any backlash from the students and sees the situation as a positive one.

“The students think it is something cool because we may have a contest to create a new mascot or something distinctly different than Notre Dame’s Leprechaun,” he said.

Worland, who sends weekly e-mails to parents, students, faculty and staff, said he frequently reminds his constituents that the phasing out process is in full swing.

Cathedral is not the only high school being asked to abandon its logo, Associate Vice President for News and Information Don Wycliff said.

“Our general counsel tells me there have been literally dozens of schools over the years that have done the same thing,” he told The Observer. “And every one of those schools thinks it is a special case for which the University ought to make an exception.”

Wycliff said the University had contacted Cathedral in 2000 about this issue.

“There’s nothing unusual about what Notre Dame has done in this case,” he said. “It’s a protect-it-or-lose-it situation.”

The controversy at Cathedral made news when a parent who worked for the Star forwarded the information to the Star’s sports department.

“I think it really made a difference that the last e-mail was sent right before St. Patrick’s Day,” Worland said. “It became a story repeating news that was already published in December.”

Still, the added publicity has not placed any more pressure on Cathedral or disturbed relations with the University.

“We have a great relationship [with Notre Dame] and I totally understand why they are asking us to do this,” Worland said. “We are not expecting Notre Dame to make an exception for us because if they did, they might as well let loose for all the other schools who use the logo.”

Notre Dame has not set a deadline for Cathedral to complete the phase-out, but simply requested it produce no new merchandise or apparel with the logo.

“The fact that the discussions between Notre Dame and Cathedral High have been going on since 2000 indicates that we have been generous in allowing the school to phase out the use of the University’s marks and adopt others,” Wycliff said in a press release Saturday.

Since the process to change logos began years ago, Worland has been encouraging the use of the Celtic cross, another symbol of the school’s Irish heritage.

Overall, Worland said he and other members of the Cathedral community respect Notre Dame’s stand on the issue and are willing to comply as soon as possible.

“We respect their trademark rights. That’s what trademarks are for,” he said. “This issue will not change our relationship one bit.”

Worland said he is using this as a learning experience for his students.

“We want to teach students that not respecting the trademark is the same as copying music or work. We don’t want to teach the wrong example,” he said. “This situation is no different. It shows our students the right thing to do.”