Notre Dame defends leprechaun mascot after survey ranks it 4th-most offensive

New York Daily News (TNS)
Notre Dame leprechaun Conal Fagan performs during a live broadcast of ESPN College Gameday at Notre Dame Stadium before the game between the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the Clemson Tigers, Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020, in South Bend, Ind. (Matt Cashore/Pool Photo via AP)

They’re punching back.

The University of Notre Dame pushed back Tuesday after a survey ranked its leprechaun mascot the fourth-most offensive among Division I football schools.

“Our symbols stand as celebratory representations of a genuine Irish heritage at Notre Dame,” the university told the Indianapolis Star, “a heritage that we regard with respect, loyalty and affection.”

Notre Dame said that the Fighting Irish nickname and mascot was first used by rival schools as an insult against their Catholic opponents, but the school adapted and repurposed the taunt.

“Soon, Notre Dame supporters took it up, turning what once was an epithet into an ‘in-your-face’ expression of triumph,” the university told the Star.

The survey, which polled 1,266 people, ranked three Indigenous mascots as more offensive than the Notre Dame leprechaun. Florida State’s Chief Osceola, San Diego State’s Aztec warrior and Hawaii’s Vili the warrior were ranked higher.

Notre Dame leadership wanted no comparison with those universities, the Star reported.

“None of these institutions were founded or named by Native Americans who sought to highlight their heritage by using names and symbols associated with their people,” the university said.