UTRGV President Guy Bailey fires back amid "Vaqueros" controversy

The UT Board of Regents voted to approve the "Vaqueros" as the UTRGV

The president of UTRGV is speaking out for the first time in public following a controversy over the new school's mascot.

Guy Bailey spoke to the McAllen South Rotary at the McAllen Country Club early Friday afternoon.

Bailey told Action 4 News that he stands behind the decision to name the UTRGV mascot as the "Vaqueros."

Spanish for the word "cowboy," the mascot choice was greeted by criticism and ethnically-themed memes and videos on social media.

Critics say that the mascot name is in Spanish and "too ethnic" leaving the school and its students vulnerable to racial slurs.

The controversy reached a fever pitch on Wednesday afternoon when the #UTRGV hashtag was trending nationwide on Twitter.

Bailey said he believes the "Vaqueros" is a good mascot name and that people will embrace it over time.

"It's not all bad, Bailey told Action 4 News about the controversy. It means people are very passionate about their school and that's a good thing.

Bailey said the choice of Vaqueros was well-thought out adding that it reflects the history of the region.

Just last year, lawmakers created the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley by merged the University of Texas Pan American (UTPA) in Edinburg and the University of Texas at Brownsville.

The merger also brings a medical school to the Valley.

Bailey said the name of the current UTPA mascot "Bucky" is actually derived from "buckaroo," which was the Anglicized version of "vaquero."

"I think you maintain some that legacy with it," Bailey said.

UTPA alum Alex Del Barrio has started an on-line petition gaining thousands of signatures to change the mascot name.

Texas State Rep. Terry Canales (D-Edinburg) told KURV 710 AM that he and other lawmakers from Hidalgo County are considering filing a bill to get the mascot name changed.

Others lawmakers such as Texas State Rep. Rene Oliveira (D-Brownsville) have come out in support of the "Vaqueros."

Bailey said the University of Texas Board of Regent's decision is final.

"Keep that passion for the athletic teams," Bailey said of the mascot's critics. "Use that same passion and show up at the basketball games and the baseball games."

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