TAMPA —The University of South Florida football program has dropped its plan to display “THE TEAM’’ on the back of its jerseys instead of the players’ last names. Instead, the jerseys will remain blank, USF spokesman Brian Siegrist said.
The school had been in consultation with the NCAA and a decision to use “THE TEAM’’ had not been finalized, Siegrist said, although coach Willie Taggart seemed to indicate a firm decision as he spoke before Monday night’s practice.
Use of a term such as “THE TEAM’’ is a violation of NCAA Rule 1-4-5, which indicates that, other than the player’s number, a jersey may contain only the player’s name, school name, NCAA logo, sleeve stripes, the American and/or state flag and a logo for the school, conference, mascot, postseason game, memorial or the military.
The rule states that only military service academies may substitute words such as Honor, Integrity, etc., for the player’s name on the back of the jersey. Civilian institutions may not substitute other words for the player’s name.
If a team violates the rule, it will be asked to change into “legal” jerseys before kickoff and before the start of each quarter until the jerseys are changed. A timeout is charged at the start of each quarter in which the illegal jerseys are worn.
“We’re Bulls and we’re a team,’’ Taggart said Monday. “Not to say the names won’t come back at some point (in future seasons), but we’re focusing on the team and that’s what it needs to be.
“After going through our first year, that’s one of the things our coaching staff felt it could do better, just becoming a team, making it all about USF, not about individuals. When you have that, good things can happen for us.’’
USF had provided a photo of a sample “THE TEAM’’ jersey on Monday night to help illustrate the concept.