Hawaii to keep 'Rainbow' in name

HONOLULU -- Hawaii's athletic department is scrapping a plan to drop the word "Rainbow" from its men's teams' nicknames.

The university announced Tuesday it is changing its football, baseball and other men's team nicknames to the Rainbow Warriors -- a name previously used by the football team but dropped in 2000.

The changes take effect July 1. All of Hawaii's women's teams will continue to be known as the Rainbow Wahine. "Wahine" means "woman" in Hawaiian.

The change backtracks from a previous plan announced in February for the men's teams to be known as simply the Warriors -- the name for the football team.

Athletic director Ben Jay said the change comes in response to public reaction to dropping the term Rainbow from all men's teams.

"We have received both positive and negative feedback," Jay said in a statement. "We listened to the public discussion and we went back to the original two questions we asked ourselves: Who are we and what is representative of the islands?"

Jay said the issue is emotional, with the only consensus that the teams should share a nickname.

"That goal will still be accomplished as we retain the Rainbow and Warriors names, both of which are near and dear to the hearts of our fans, whom we represent," Jay said.

Jay said at a news conference that there are no significant cost differences from the original plan with the football team changing. He said he thinks fans likely will continue to have differing opinions on the nicknames because of generational differences and varied connections to the university.

Football coach Norm Chow said he expects the name change to have little to no effect on his team's operations, including its ability to recruit players.

"We need to put a good product on the field -- that's what it's all about," Chow said.

Hawaii's men's teams use three different nicknames. The football team is known as the Warriors, while the basketball team is known as the Rainbow Warriors and the baseball team is referred to as the Rainbows.

The Rainbows nickname dates to 1923, when a rainbow appeared over the field during an upset of Oregon State. Reporters started calling the team, then known as the Deans, the Rainbows.

A legend started that the team wouldn't lose whenever a rainbow appeared on the field.

Hawaii's football team adopted the nickname the Rainbow Warriors in 1974, but dropped "Rainbow" in 2000.