Could the University of Georgia become a school with no name?
All sides say that is unlikely, but the very identity of the 219-year-old university has become entangled in the school's messy divorce from a private fundraising foundation. That is because the school let its trademark lapse and the foundation applied for the rights to all things labeled "University of Georgia."
The mere suggestion of a nameless university was laughable to Gov. Sonny Perdue, who holds two degrees from the school and has backed the university in the dispute.
"That name is not owned by anyone," Perdue said Friday. "I think it's pretty clear. It's owned by all of us -- it's owned by Georgia."
The dispute is rooted in a decision last year by the university's president, Michael Adams, not to renew the contract of beloved athletic director Vince Dooley. That sent many alumni into a revolt, with the University of Georgia Foundation leading the charge.
Georgia's Board of Regents, which controls the state's public colleges, stepped in to end the feud last week when it announced it would dissolve the decades-old relationship between the university and the foundation in 90 days.
Foundation lawyers said it will not be so easy to cast the group aside and start another. Not only does it raise funds for the university, cover some of the school's costs and endow scholarships, it also has an agreement to license products emblazoned with the school name.
On top of that, the foundation applied for the trademark to the University of Georgia name last year after learning that the school had let the trademark lapse in 1997.
Foundation attorneys said the application was not an attempt to take over the school or its name, just a protective measure. The trademark application is pending.