Athletic Director Carla Williams said Monday that after the new logos were released she was “made aware of the negative connotation between the serpentine walls and slavery.”
“I was not previously aware of the historical perspective indicating the original eight-foot-high walls were constructed to mask the institution of slavery and enslaved laborers from public view,” said Williams, who in 2017 became the first African American woman to be hired as an athletic director at a program in a Power Five conference. “Over the last few weeks, I have worked to better educate myself, and that education will continue.”
The serpentine-shaped handles were added to the V-Sabre, the Cavaliers’ long-standing primary logo, as well as to a new Cavalier Shield. As part of an April brand relaunch coordinated with Nike, Virginia also introduced a Virginia Cavalier secondary logo and added beveling to the “V” and the sabres as well as new typography and accent colors.
“It’s exciting and it maintains U-Va.’s sense of history and a strong connection to the past,” Williams said at the time of the relaunch. “It pays homage to our tradition and what we hope our future will be, which is to be bold, creative, innovative, competitive, fierce and fiery. The new marks and logos have all of those qualities in each one of them.”
On Monday, Williams declared, “There was no intent to cause harm, but we did, and for that I apologize to those who bear the pain of slavery in our history.”
She said the logos were redesigned to remove the serpentine detail from the sabre handles. “All other aspects of the logos will remain the same,” she added.
People who bought merchandise featuring the V-Sabre or Cavalier Shield introduced in April and are interested in an exchange were asked to contact Virginia’s athletic department via email.