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Evangel announces landmark sports moves

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It was a big week for Evangel University athletics.

The university announced two significant retirements: longtime men's basketball coach Steve Jenkins and its Crusader mascot.

'Epitome of Evangel athletics'
Jenkins' exit this week came after 39 years as head coach for the team, according to a news release.

He led the team to a 692-542 overall record, making him the all-time leader for Evangel in coaching wins. Jenkins ranks fourth in wins among active men's head basketball coaches in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics and 21st on the NAIA all-time wins list.

"Steve is the epitome of Evangel athletics and sets a great example for all who follow him," said Dennis McDonald, director of athletics, in the release. "He influences his players to have a strong walk with God, to excel academically and to always strive to be top athletes."

During the 2001-02 season, Jenkins and his team posted a 35-1 overall record and went 20-0 in conference play to capture the university's first NAIA national title.

The university started an immediate search to find his successor, according to the release.

Branding change
Evangel leadership made the decision to do away with the school's official mascot that’s been in place since the university's 1955 inception, according to a separate news release.

“The world has changed significantly since the 1950s, when the Evangel community, intending to depict strength, honor and commitment to the faith, first identified a Crusader as the school’s mascot,” said George Wood, interim president of Evangel, in the release. “Today, we recognize that the Crusader often inhibits the ability of students and alumni to proudly represent the university in their areas of global work and ministry.”

The term historically is associated with soldiers in the Crusades, a series of religious wars between Christians and Muslims, according to History.com.

Wood and his cabinet moved unanimously with the Evangel Board of Trustees to retire the mascot name. The consideration process for changing the name dates back to 2007, according to the release.

Evangel plans to create a committee comprised of students, alumni, faculty and athletic staff to lead the process of identifying a new mascot.

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