For 77 years, the rainbow has been the symbol and nickname for the University of Hawaii football team, spurred on by the rallying cry "Go 'Bows!"
More recently, the rainbow has become a symbol for gay pride, which the school's athletic director said was a factor in a decision to drop the rainbow from school logos and the football team's name.
"That logo really put a stigma on our program at times in regards to it's part of the gay community, their flags and so forth," Hugh Yoshida said after the new, Polynesian-style "H" logo was unveiled this week, replacing the old logo, which had the letters UH and a rainbow.
Now the university is being accused of homophobia by gay groups and is being criticized by some native Hawaiians for renaming the football team the Warriors.
"A statement like that I can understand coming from student-athletes, but to come from the athletic director, I am surprised and disappointed," said Ken Miller of the Gay and Lesbian Community Center.
Yoshida, who later said his comments were taken out of context, did not return calls Friday. Neither did football coach June Jones, who pushed for the logo and name change along with agent Leigh Steinberg, who was hired by the school to market the athletic program.
"The university is sorry if anyone was offended. That was not the intent," university spokesman Jim Manke said Thursday.
Hawaii was known as the Fighting Deans during its first football game in 1909. The name Rainbows was used for the first time by reporters after the final game of the 1923 season, an upset victory over Oregon State after which a rainbow appeared over the field.
The school's nickname was changed to Rainbow Warriors in the mid-1960s after the student newspaper ridiculed the name Rainbows and linked it to gays.