MORGANTOWN, W. Va. -- West Virginia University athletic director Oliver Luck is asking Mountaineers football fans to use fashion peer pressure after one was shown on television wearing a T-shirt bearing a curse word.
Luck issued a letter Monday evening to fans on WVU's athletic website, www.msnsportsnet.com. The T-shirt in question was seen during the Sept. 4 game between Marshall and West Virginia that was broadcast nationwide.
WVU prides itself as a family-friendly environment at games and Luck said the T-shirt's portrayal isn't the image the Mountaineers want to promote of the university or the state. He's asking fans to help convince those wearing such T-shirts to "reconsider their choice of attire."
"I would like to request that if you see someone wearing one of these T-shirts that you politely ask him or her to change or to cover it up," Luck said. "Even wearing it inside-out would be an improvement."
Luck, who is a lawyer, said the First Amendment protects free speech, so the university can't outright ban the offending T-shirts.
"But as my dad used to tell me, 'Just because it is legal does not mean it is right,' " Luck said. "And I certainly believe that people wearing these offending T-shirts at Mountaineer games, or anywhere else, for that matter, are damaging the reputation of our state and its flagship institution of higher learning."
Luck said WVU will be on national television again Sept. 24 when it plays LSU at home, "and we would like to present a more favorable image to the millions of football fans from around the country who will be watching the game. Be polite, be courteous, be friendly -- but do speak up."
No. 18 West Virginia plays Saturday at Maryland, which is having fan-behavior issues of its own.
Maryland athletic director Kevin Anderson on Monday wrote a letter asking Terps fans to be respectful of others after receiving an email from a fan who had brought his 11-year-old son to the season opener against Miami in College Park, Md.
The fan complained about profane language and signs in the home crowd and his struggle to explain it to his son.
Anderson said aggressive and offensive behavior "paints the University, our teams and every one of us in a bad light and it is not what this world class institution is about. Every coach, student-athlete, fan, staff member and member of our student body has a responsibility to represent our great University with class, dignity and respect.
"Is this who you really want to be and is this the impression you want the nation to have of us?"