Sports

UNC’s new tradition of lighting bell tower for football win isn’t new to the Triangle

Tar Heels invite fans to Kenan Stadium to watch practice

North Carolina invited fans to Kenan Stadium on Monday, August 19, 2019 to watch the Tar Heels practice under the lights.
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North Carolina invited fans to Kenan Stadium on Monday, August 19, 2019 to watch the Tar Heels practice under the lights.

UNC-Chapel Hill is taking a page out of NC State’s playbook this season.

After every win for the Tar Heels football team, UNC will light up the Morehead-Patterson Bell Tower Carolina blue -- a tradition NC State has been celebrating for more than 20 years.

“Enjoy this new view of Carolina’s Bell Tower following football victories this fall. Go Heels!!,” interim Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz tweeted.

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UNC-Chapel Hill

The bell tower sits just outside Kenan Stadium, where UNC fans could see the team’s first home win -- with booze in the stands -- on Sept. 7 against Miami.

This season will mark the first time UNC has lit up the bell tower for a sports team, UNC athletics spokesman Mark Kimmel said. He said head football coach Mack Brown wanted to carry the tradition to UNC from his time at the University of Texas.

“It gives a symbolic way of showing success for the football team,” Kimmel said. “It’s something to rally behind ... for fans and alumni to take pride in victory.”

It didn’t take long for NC State fans to start bashing the Tar Heels on Twitter for copying NC State’s tradition, which began in 1998 under former Chancellor Marye Anne Fox.

NC State bathes its Memorial Tower in red light for Atlantic Coast Conference victories, some postseason victories, ACC championships and national championships for the football team and other athletics programs. NC State also turns its bell tower red for other celebrations including Veteran’s Day, commencement, and prestigious awards won by faculty and students.

Wolfpack fans mocked the Tar Heels, saying the lights would never be turned on and the bulbs will last forever -- a swipe at the UNC football team’s 2-9 record last season.

UNC also has a new tradition of illuminating the bell tower in blue and white on the eve of the first day of classes to celebrate the start of the school year.

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Darkness falls over Kenan Stadium as the sun sets behind the Bell Tower during the Tar Heels’ practice on Monday August 19, 2019 in Chapel Hill, N.C. Robert Willett rwillett@newsobserver.com

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Kate Murphy covers higher education for The News & Observer. Previously, she covered higher education for the Cincinnati Enquirer on the investigative and enterprise team and USA Today Network. Her work has won state awards in Ohio and Kentucky and she was recently named a 2019 Education Writers Association finalist for digital storytelling.
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