BIRMINGHAM, DEC. 7 -- The University of Alabama's decision to play in the Fiesta Bowl in Arizona, where voters rejected a state holiday honoring Martin Luther King Jr., was a "slap in the face" to blacks, a law professor testified in a desegregation lawsuit.
"It is an example of institutional racism," said Wythe Holt during testimony Thursday in the federal retrial of a lawsuit accusing some of Alabama's public colleges and universities of maintaining vestiges of segregation.
"The university does not think that this is important and is not sensitive to black concerns."
Holt's testimony in Birmingham came as student leaders voiced support for the decision to play in the Fiesta Bowl and university officials said they would not reconsider the decision.
"We accepted a bid from the Fiesta Bowl after much thoughtful consideration and we do not plan to change that," university spokeswoman Janet Griffith said.
Holt, who is white, has taught law at Alabama since 1966 and is a former president of the faculty senate. He recently proposed and won passage of a senate resolution asking the university administration to reject the Fiesta Bowl invitation.
Alabama President Roger Sayers later accepted the invitation to play Louisville in the bowl in Tempe.
Alabama Coach Gene Stallings said previously the players accepted the invitation to go to the Fiesta.