While Troy University’s Student Government Association considers the decision to name the Troy-South rivalry the “Battle for the Belt” a collaborative effort, the University of South Alabama’s SGA president said the name came entirely from his school.
Both SGAs, along with their athletics departments, have officially announced “Battle for the Belt” as the name for the Troy-South rivalry. In addition, a wrestling-style belt will go to the champion of the football game, which will be on Oct. 3.
South’s SGA worked with the Vanguard, South Alabama’s student newspaper, to ask students there for feedback on the name for the rivalry. According to Alyssa Newton, editor-in-chief of the Vanguard, Troy University offered “no creative feedback” regarding the name.
Ravi Rajendra, South Alabama’s SGA president, said the process of naming the Troy-South game was “years in the making” and that South students showed an “intense passion” for the rivalry.
“Our students are already buying into it,” said Rajendra.
According to Newton, a former South Alabama student originally tweeted the name “Battle of the Belt” to South’s SGA, which changed it to “Battle for the Belt.” It was then that South’s SGA took to social media to ask students for feedback.
“On our end, everything was publicly available,” Rajendra said. “The main thing we wanted to establish was the camaraderie.”
“Over the summer, (South’s) SGA had a couple polls and social media announcements for names to be sent in,” said Sydney Willard, a student at South Alabama. “They also invited us to meetings once a week to see if we had any suggestions for names… I would say there were plenty of opportunities for South students, honestly.”
Rajendra said that then, South Alabama reached out to Heath Barton, SGA president at Troy University. Rajendra said that he also worked with Maxwell Herman, a Troy SGA senator and chairman of the Student Life Committee.
“I think they (University of South Alabama) kind of thought of one (idea for the trophy and name), and we kind of thought of one,” said Barton, a senior global business major from Opp.
According to Newton, South’s SGA sent potential names to Troy about a month ago, with the intent of including Troy in the decision-making process. “About two or three weeks ago,” South sent over a mockup trophy and a potential title, which Troy’s SGA approved.
Barton acknowledged Herman’s role in working with South’s SGA in order to come up with names. Barton was away from campus, working at an internship, during the summer.
“Max was helping out a lot,” Barton said.
According to Herman, a junior hospitality management major from Panama City Beach, Florida, Troy’s SGA polled students by approaching them at University Activity Council’s Fall Fling and asking for ideas regarding the rivalry and the trophy.
“We spent all summer asking and also had a poll at the UAC Fall Fling event, for this name, and one that got the most votes was ‘Battle for the Belt,’” Herman said. “We chose this name also because it goes along with our area, which is called the ‘Bible Belt,’ or the Sun Belt (conference).”
“(Herman) did… go out and kind of get people’s opinions,” said Shelby Scott, a sophomore psychology major from Tallahassee, Florida, and SGA director of administration.
Scott also said during Welcome Week, there was a bowl into which students could place their ideas for the trophy.
Barton said that Herman “went around (the SGA office), getting a vote of what we wanted it to be.”
Both Herman and Scott also said that Troy’s SGA made no public announcements of any kind for the student polling.
When asked for the results of the vote and the poll, both Herman and Barton could not produce any records.
“I think it was on one piece of paper, and it probably got thrown away,” Barton said.
Herman confirmed the fact that no records of the poll results still exist.
“We (Troy SGA) ended up going over to them (South Alabama), saying, ‘Hey, this is what we have come up with,’” Barton said. “’What do you guys think?’”
However, Newton said that she “didn’t hear anything” regarding polls from Troy’s SGA. Rajendra said the same thing.
“I’m not familiar with anything (Troy’s SGA) put on the ground,” Rajendra said. “I don’t know specifics on (Troy’s) end.”
Will Mangum, a junior exercise science major from Montgomery and Leadership Council director for Troy’s Student Alumni Association, said he and Herman collaborated on planning Rivalry Week events, but he had not heard about any poll for the rivalry name itself.
“The only poll I know of has been for Dining Services,” said Raven Pasibe, a senior broadcast journalism major from Dothan and philanthropy chair for Phi Mu.
The Tropolitan spoke with about a dozen students not affiliated with SGA, and none of them said they had heard about the “Battle of the Belt” poll.
When asked whether students would feel left out by a lack of involvement, Herman said, “I’m sure that always happens.”
Newton said she was disappointed that Troy students were not as involved with the decision.
“I think that really deprived Troy,” Newton said.