On Saturday evening, SDSU will welcome a new foe, Dixie State, to Dana J. Dykhouse stadium. Dixie St., through deductive reasoning and common sense, is probably located somewhere in the South, likely Mississippi or Alabama, right? Dixie St. is actually located in St. George, Utah, a cultural hub of Southern Utah.
According to the University’s website, Dixie St. “came by its name through many changes. In 1888, the LDS Church established the St. George Stake Academy.” The school went through a number of changes throughout the years, ranging from “Dixie Academy to Dixie Normal College to Dixie State College of Utah” before finally landing on its current name.
According to the university’s website, the reason they chose “Dixie” rather than “St. George” was that the area the university was located in was already named Dixie, and the community decided to use it for the name of the university. In Utah, the name “Dixie” refers to an area in the southern part of the state that at one time, grew and harvested cotton. St. George is located in the Dixie area of Utah, where, according to Wikipedia, there are “dozens of institutions and businesses that use the name ‘Dixie.’”
It’s an interesting name to use for a university, considering the original name for “Dixie” was used to describe the land south of the Mason-Dixon line, where slavery was legal. Apparently the name means different things to different people, which is why the name is still somewhat socially acceptable to use today (“Dixieland Delight” by Alabama is still played religiously by fraternities and “Dixie” is still a common nickname for the South). In Utah (similar to the South), “Dixie” refers to the area where cotton is planted or is often directly associated with cotton. While the name Dixie itself feels harmless to use as a name for a university, Dixie St. took it a step too far, nicknaming their athletic teams the “Rebels” in 1952, while using a confederate soldier as a mascot (Rodney the Rebel) and flying the Confederate flag as a school symbol in 1960. While plenty of colleges use the nickname “Rebels” including Ole Miss (a more traditional Southern university), Dixie St. decided to connect itself to the ugliest part of American history far too clearly. In 1993, Dixie St. removed the Confederate flag as its symbol and the “Rebels” nickname was removed in 2007. Today, they are called the Trailblazers and sport a bison as their mascot. In the wake of the George Floyd protest in the summer of 2020, the university began the process of changing the university’s name. The university decided to find suggestions from the St. George community, with a survey being conducted to decide a winner. According to the Desert News, the names suggested were:
Red Rock University
St. George University
Utah Polytechnic University
Dixie State University
Utah’s Dixie University
Snow Canyon State University
Greater Zion University.
The results of the survey showed that the town preferred to stay with Dixie St., as the name received 47% of the vote. Despite the survey, the Utah Board of Trustees voted to change the name to Utah Polytechnic University (Utah Tech). The change was met with overwhelming backlash by the student body and the town of St. George. From the university’s website:
“As DSU moves forward with the name recommendation of Utah Tech University, we appreciate your interest during this pivotal moment in our history. We know this topic has overtaken your social media feeds and family dinners for the past year, but this exhaustive process was necessary to establish the strongest name possible. The Utah Tech University name embodies our trailblazing spirit of forging stronger paths for others to follow.”
It is unclear exactly when the name change will take effect.
As for sports, Dixie St. has only recently moved up Division I and it shows on the field. So far this year, the Western Athletic Conference Member has been waxed by Weber St. and UC Davis, while also losing a close game to Sacramento St. Funny enough, this will not be the first time Dixie St. has traveled to play in South Dakota. In 2019, they played at SD Mines, winning 28-16.
Fun fact: Corey Dillion, former running back of the New England Patriots and Cincinnati Bengals, played for a year at Dixie before transferring to Washington.
This one could get ugly in a hurry. The Jacks can name their score, but would be wise to pull the starters as soon as the game is in hand. Next week, they will host Southern Illinois who was a stop or two away from bouncing them in this spring’s playoffs. The Jacks have also been caught with the injury bug as well, losing Isiah Davis and corner Don Gardner in recent weeks. Both will be back in time for the playoffs, but health should be of the highest priority as the Jacks begin to move into the more crucial part of the regular season.
SDSU 52 – Dixie St. 24