Altered photos erase Augusta State from GRU publication

Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013 5:09 PM
Last updated Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013 9:45 PM
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Call it the case of the disappearing logos.

Georgia Regents University officials distanced themselves Wednesday from what they said was an “error in judgment” for altered photos in a new publication that touts Augusta State University’s athletic traditions while erasing the former school’s name and insignias from team uniforms. 

The cover of the 12-page, color, glossy “view book” says, “Be a part of the legacy at Georgia Regents University,” and inside is a two-page spread on “Jaguar Athletics” with photos of Augusta State sports teams.

Their uniforms, however, no longer display Augusta State logos or emblems.

One photo shows a group of seven smiling young men clad in golf attire, proudly holding an NCAA national championship trophy between them.

Carter Newman stands in the back, second from the left, but unless you know him and who he played for, it would be difficult to tell from the photo.

His Augusta State University emblems have disappeared. His white cap is blank where a bold, blue “A” should be.

Newman, who grew up in Augusta and helped the Jaguars win consecutive NCAA Division I national championships in 2010 and 2011, said he was proud to wear “Augusta” on his clothing. He said he is infuriated by the photo.

“It makes me mad that they want to use us to show that we won back-to-back national championships but not who we played for,” said Newman, nicknamed “Captain Clutch” for his clutch play at the 2011 national championships. “They’re taking advantage of us. That’s something we worked for. We represented Augusta.”

A block of text adjacent to the photo refers to the men’s golf team as “one of best collegiate golf teams ever” and says the men were “National Champions in 2010 & 2011,” without mentioning the team represented Augusta State.

Photos of the men’s basketball team and a women’s softball team also had Augusta State emblems digitally erased.

Ben Madgen, the all-time leading scorer in Augusta State basketball history, wears No. 1 in the photo and now plays professional basketball for the Sydney Kings in his native Australia. After seeing the altered photos Wednesday, he expressed his shock and dismay in an e-mail.

“That is terrible. We won those (three) regional championships for Augusta State University, so to see those photos of great memories be Photoshopped to promote another school is really heart breaking,” said the two-time All-American who helped lead the Jaguars to three Division II Elite Eight appearances. “It looks terrible and takes away from the joy all of the basketball team had winning those championships for ASU. I hope something can be done about this because it isn’t right.”

David Brond, the senior vice president of communications and marketing, sent an e-mail to school faculty and staffers Wednesday night calling the decision to alter the photos an isolated occurrence that does not reflect the views of the university’s leadership, his office or the athletics department on the importance of Jaguar athletic accomplishments or the athletes.

Questioned about the alteration Tuesday, Brond said the view book is a marketing publication targeting potential undergraduate students. He said the changes were done to avoid confusing future students with names of the former institutions that merged in January to create GRU.

“The question was how to alleviate that confusion,” he said.

Instead of explaining the merger with Georgia Health Sciences University and the origin of the new university, it was decided to “eliminate other brands” from the view book and emphasize only the GRU brand, Brond said.

In fact, there is no mention of the merger in the entire publication.

Removing the logos, he said, was simpler than explaining the context of the photos.

“We chose not to do it that way,” he said. “In marketing, it is always said that simple is better. Less is better.”

About 5,000 of the view books were printed at a cost of $10,000, GRU officials said. Distribution began this week, with many being handed out to local high school guidance counselors who attended a two-day admissions workshop on the university’s Summerville campus. Brond said some had already been distributed to Atlanta area schools.

“This was produced by our enrollment management group,” Brond said, but when pressed, he said he would not name the person who made the decision to alter the photos.

Officials said it wasn’t University President Ricardo Azziz. University spokeswoman Christen Carter said Azziz had no involvement in the publication and did not review its content.

Who made the decision about the photos is something of a mystery. Director of Admissions Katherine Sweeney directed inquiries about the view book to her boss, Vice Provost Roman Cirbirka.

University officials said Wednesday that Cibirka was not available for comment.

Augusta State men’s basketball Coach Dip Metress said he had seen the photos, but “we aren’t allowed to comment.” He referred inquiries to athletics spokesman Joey Warren, who also declined to comment.

“David Brond is the only one who will be making any statements about this,” Warren said.

Nick Evans, the chairman of the Save the A campaign, which sought to keep the “Augusta” as part of the new institution’s name, said he was “extremely disappointed” in what appears to be an effort to claim Augusta State’s athletic glory without acknowledging the past.

“That’s tremendously disappointing for those kids who wore those shirts for their school and now it is like it never happened,” he said.

Evans said the publication appears to be part of pattern of moving away from the name “Augusta,” despite a compromise his group and university officials agreed to a few months ago.

“I cannot believe the school’s leadership is taking the marketing in the direction they are taking it after having agreed to prominently include Augusta in everything,” he said.

Brond said the school is using Augusta in some of its marketing materials, but not all. He said this instance wasn’t an attempt to reshape the school’s past.

“This doesn’t change history,” he said earlier, explaining that the school’s sports teams are competing under the Augusta State moniker until the end of the season. He said there are no other photos.

“There are no such things as Georgia Regents uniforms,” he said.

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baller014
8
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baller014 02/28/13 - 12:33 pm
6
2
GRU and the President...

GRU's President is a royal narcissistic maniac who thinks he can do what ever he wants. His arrogance is astounding. If you want a laugh, read his blog. This dude calls his wife the First Lady and even has a bio on his dog. He has body guards just for a status symbol. If he seriously need them, He should change jobs. He has the audacity to send an email to faculty with guidelines on how he may be addressed. No more than three sentences per email. And he claims the power to fire any staff or faculty member as he chooses without due cause. He is a very threatening individual and will chew/cuss people out for no reason in meetings. Its his way or the highway. He is not open to constructive feedback. I would not be surprised if he did review this. The board of regents (who the university is named after now) told him "Augusta is just a sleepy little town that needs to be woken up." For this outsider to think he knows what is best is distressing.

Mrswkc2001
67
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Mrswkc2001 02/28/13 - 12:50 pm
5
0
Unreal...

It is impossible to "un-ring a bell," but who in the hell even thought this was a reasonable option? The level of disrespect to the athletes and alumni is immeasurable. I willing to bet that the person who will inevitably be fired for this was not in on the decision making and will be "thrown under the bus." There seems to be a rash of CEOs and other high ranking mangers sacrificing someone else rather than taking responsbility for their decisions.

Rob Pavey
552
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Rob Pavey 02/28/13 - 01:31 pm
6
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"hyperbolic and frankly rather offensive?"....really, karradur?

The intent of my comment was to point out the mindset that drives this kind of behavior. In other words, if you don't like the truth, just alter it and pretend your version is real. I am risking more of your criticism here (especially since I comment with my real name, and you don't), but did you notice how the government of Iran photoshopped more clothes on Michelle Obama presenting an Oscar?

karradur
2854
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karradur 02/28/13 - 01:40 pm
3
5
"The intent of my comment was

"The intent of my comment was to point out the mindset that drives this kind of behavior. In other words, if you don't like the truth, just alter it and pretend your version is real. I am risking more of your criticism here (especially since I comment with my real name, and you don't), but did you notice how the government of Iran photoshopped more clothes on Michelle Obama presenting an Oscar?"

As a member of the press, you know that I have a right to anonymity if I so choose, and if you're trying to intimidate me, it won't work.

I did notice Iran's actions regarding Mrs. Obama. I also noticed that that doesn't take away the fact that you compared the actions of a marketing campaign to the actions of a government that condemns its citizens to horrific torture and murder. Your casual association of the advertising department of Georgia Regents University with North Korea makes for a good soundbite but doesn't reflect the reality that this entire issue, while certainly valid, has been drastically overblown.

karradur
2854
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karradur 02/28/13 - 01:47 pm
1
4
.....

Watch Anderson Cooper's 60 Minutes interview with Shin Dong-hyuk and then tell me that changing a logo in a photograph of a basketball team is as bad as North Korea.

Mojoe
19
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Mojoe 02/28/13 - 03:09 pm
2
0
Personally it will always be

Personally it will always be ASU to me. I have no frigging idea what a gru is and don't care to find out.

prov227
3157
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prov227 02/28/13 - 03:37 pm
2
0
Whoa ...

Earlier post ... "Once you step back and get past the purely emotional response, this actually makes some sense. Marketing a "new" university using the "old" name is kind of silly." ... Denying the factual history of the merger of two older institutions is deceitful to prospective students of GRU and disrespectful of both athletes, students and friends of the Junior College of Augusta, Augusta College and Augusta State University. You are what you are and "marketing" can't make you something you're truthfully not, at least in the long run. Is this an attempt by GRUers to start a new campaign for giving from former students of JCA, AC and ASU? All these institutions, including MCG, have a proud histories. No need to cover that up, even to prospects.

Little Lamb
46022
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Little Lamb 02/28/13 - 04:09 pm
2
0
Confusion

From the story:

David Brond, the senior vice president of communications and marketing, . . . said the changes were done to avoid confusing future students with names of the former institutions that merged in January to create GRU.

The real truth is that Grooo president Ricardo Azziz does not think Augusta College or Augusta State University graduates should feel pride in their alma mater. In fact, Dr. Azziz is ashamed of Augusta State’s heritage because it accepts students with lower SAT scores than some other universities do; and because it offers night classes to non-traditional students. He wants to hide the past.

harley_52
23367
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harley_52 02/28/13 - 04:16 pm
3
0
"Watch Anderson Cooper's 60 Minutes interview....

....with Shin Dong-hyuk and then tell me that changing a logo in a photograph of a basketball team is as bad as North Korea."

Is stabbing somebody okay just because it's not as bad as slashing their throat?

Isn't moral equivalency fun?

GRU got its name via an unethical, unprincipled process that left most reasonable people appalled and disgusted.

This photoshopping exercise only demonstrates the name-change experience wasn't an aberration.

Does anybody believe this sort of behavior will enhance the reputation of GRU to the outside world?

Fiat_Lux
15426
Points
Fiat_Lux 02/28/13 - 04:24 pm
2
0
About GRU

It's full of creeps, starting at the top.

crackertroy
540
Points
crackertroy 02/28/13 - 04:26 pm
0
0
"Save the A" was a total failure
Unpublished

I sincerely regret now that I ever got on board with the worthless "Save the A" campaign. What a useless waste of time. A total sham. All of Augusta was let down by guys who started as heroes of Augusta and in the end nothing more than zeroes. What were their names again?

Jake
32546
Points
Jake 02/28/13 - 04:29 pm
3
0
History

You can't change history (though some try) so let the photo's that show the players in their uniforms they competed in be the one's that are displayed.

NrthAugustaSam
475
Points
NrthAugustaSam 02/28/13 - 04:57 pm
2
0
Just Askin'....

Did the Baltimore Ravens win Superbowl 5? What if the Ravens started taking credit for the win? I think Johnny Unitas would roll over in his grave if that happened (RIP). Same deal here.

charles6780
203
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charles6780 02/28/13 - 04:57 pm
2
0
Ludicrious

I am not surprised to see the obliteration of Augusta State University in the marketing material. The Save the A campaign caved - and the handwriting was on the wall soon there after. The inclusion of Augusta is "never" going to happen. The paltry nod to add Augusta, was just that - to make the Save the A campaign go away and appease the groups supporters. The entire merger and name debacle that followed should have been the precursor of what we are now seeing. It really is a shame that we have the "history" of back to back wins in NCAA Division I Golf, as well as NCAA Division II Basketball and future students will not find a reference to the school, players, coaches that "made this happen". I hope the Golf channel picks up this story, as they did the unfortunate naming issue, and get another laugh at the stupidity of Azziz and the Board of Regents. An over sight - that is an UNDERSTATEMENT. What is even better is the complicity as to who is responsible for this "error in judgement". Error in judgement - no a complete disgrace.

peggyandrick
169
Points
peggyandrick 02/28/13 - 05:19 pm
2
0
Land for Sale

Dear OJP
If you believe that, I have some water front property for sale.

charles6780
203
Points
charles6780 02/28/13 - 05:19 pm
2
0
Shame

I am not surprised to see Augusta State University removed from the images. The "Save the A" campaign caved, and the use of Augusta will never be promoted as was originally thought. They (GRU officials) acquiesced to make the movement/supporters go away, and they did. To have back to back NCAA Division I Golf Championships, as well as NCAA Division II Basketball accolades, obliterated from the merged school history is unforgivable. The excuse that the marketing information would be less confusing is sophomoric at best. A simple line, such as the one on the GRU web site, regarding the merged schools would have been a better solution than photo-shopping the images (isn't that a copyright issue). I only hope that the Golf Channel and ESPN get wind of this story, as they did the nationwide name search debacle - and they get a second laugh at the stupidity of Azziz and the Board of Regents. An "error in judgement" is and UNDERSTATEMENT regarding this "viewbook" publication. The only thing more despicable is the acquiescing by the officials as to who is ultimately responsible. SHAME, SHAME, SHAME ON YOU GRU.

karradur
2854
Points
karradur 02/28/13 - 05:31 pm
1
3
"Is stabbing somebody okay

"Is stabbing somebody okay just because it's not as bad as slashing their throat?

Isn't moral equivalency fun?"

Did you read my posts? I completely agree that this was a bad decision. I agree with pretty much everything that everyone has said so far on the issue, and that's a rare thing on Chronicle articles.

My specific issue is with Mr. Pavey's comparison of the situation to the government of North Korea. THAT is what I have a problem with.

...point to ponder
755
Points
...point to ponder 02/28/13 - 06:03 pm
2
0
Smoke and mirrors...

What did come of the compromised use of the 'Augusra' tag on ALL marketing materials?

I believe the Board of Regents and the Governor need to lay down a hammer or two.

As someone said earlier, very eloquently, (paraphrasing)...these academic institutions are here to teach ....but given what is being set out as an example of real world academic ethics I don't have any trust left in me for the leadership of these combined schools of higher education. They have squandered away what little was left.

Neither our Governor and/or the BoR can fix this fiasco that "they" assisted in creating.

When can the people again Trust our elected/appointed fellow citizens to do what is right?

harley_52
23367
Points
harley_52 02/28/13 - 07:32 pm
0
0
"Did you read my posts?"

Yes, but I apparently missed your point.

My apologies.

gbhs
75
Points
gbhs 03/01/13 - 09:48 am
1
0
North Korea

Karradur, you are totally missing Rob's point. There are clear similarities between the new regime at ASU and North Korea. Rob is not implying that there are human rights issues but rather censorship and dictatorship issues. Do you realize faculty members and coaches are forbidden from saying anything about the new school? If they do say something they lose their job. What would you call that?

Inmyopinion2
41
Points
Inmyopinion2 03/02/13 - 07:28 am
0
0
In Response to "Where's the A"

I have heard from a source that I trust that some faculty and staff are being told NOT to use GRU - Augusta because the univeristy has presence in more than one location throughout the state. This news is quite frustrating. I thought the agreement was made at the STATE level that ALL marketing would include GRU - Augusta. If this is true, and GRU is not doing what it said it would (I'm sure the Board of Regents is aware they are not abiding by the agreement), then it seems to me the save the A campaign might should be revived. Maybe this time citizens should contact SACS directly. The community supports that our citizens learn in our institutions, but we do not support the leadership of the instituion, expecially when agreemetns are so blatently disregarded. We hold no trust for the leadership - mainly, Azizz.

charles6780
203
Points
charles6780 03/03/13 - 08:49 am
0
0
Golf Channel

In a footnote to the ASU photo-shopping debacle, my wish was granted. The Golf Channel did pick up the story on the Morning Drive 3/1/13 and had another laugh at the stupidity regarding the name change - but the best part was their holding the "Save the A" sign and standing behind the idea. Amen and thanks GC.

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