ST. LOUIS — The ink has barely dried on a bill changing the name of Southwest Missouri State University, but that didn’t stop fans at the Missouri Valley Conference basketball tournament from chanting “MSU! MSU!” as their team beat the University of Northern Iowa 70-62 on Saturday.
The House voted 120-35 last week to drop “Southwest” from the school’s name, allowing it to become Missouri State University. The change will take effect Aug. 28.
Coach Barry Hinson mentioned the name change in the post-game news conference.
“This is it for (the name) Southwest Missouri State,” he said.
Backers of the name change argue that Missouri State University better describes the school’s ranking as the state’s second-largest campus. They said it will attract more students, staff and donors.
In the meantime, fans, collectors and alumni, like Missy Brinkmann, are stocking up on paraphernalia from the university. The Springfield woman said she has four large plastic storage tubs full of items stamped with “Southwest Missouri State University” and the Bears logo. This weekend, she bought more while she was in St. Louis to watch the game.
“I won’t part with the stuff,” John Brinkmann said of his collection of Southwest Missouri State gear. “I love the name change. I totally support it.”
Creighton Holmes, a member of the 1986 SMSU football team, still has his 18-year-old school letterman’s jacket.
“I’m looking for old stuff,” he said. “I think it’s great the name is changing. The school has been waiting for 20 years.”
Mark Brixey, director of the school’s bookstore, said sales have skyrocketed since the name change was approved. Sales were three times higher than normal on the first day after the change.
“Alumni are coming in and saying they want stuff with SMSU on it,” he said. “We’ve been telling people this is the last time we’ll be here with SMS items.”
Betty and Jim Aton of Willard have been season ticket holders to men and women’s basketball games for 10 years.
“I may always say SMS,” Betty Aton said. “I don’t know. It will be different.”
Brent Dunn, director of athletic development for the school, joked with other conference officials that Southwest Missouri State was leaving the conference. Then he told them that the school was being renamed Missouri State.
“It hasn’t set in quite yet,” he said. He said alumni and donors who had not called before have started doing so. “They are excited and want to start donating because they’re happy to be a part of Missouri State.”