Local News

Defaced Yow mural painted over pink

Posted February 1, 2009
Updated March 9, 2009

— Student government leaders and fraternity members couldn't stand to see the insult – a spray-painted tribute to Kay Yow defaced with blue graffiti and phrases celebrating the cancer that killed North Carolina State University's longtime women's basketball coach.

By Sunday morning, the Free Expression Tunnel on N.C. State's campus was plastered with pink paint – the universal color of breast-cancer awareness. It covered the obscenities and defaced portions of the mural.

student who painted the yow mural N.C. State students fix Yow mural

After learning what had happened, NCSU Student Body President Jay Dawkins said he and several members of the student government went at 2:30 a.m. to paint over it.

A group of students came later in the morning to paint the tunnel the color of their co-ed fraternity, Alpha Zeta. Instead, they chose to paint it pink.

Student Blake Burnette had painted the mural – showing Yow's face and name intertwined with a pink ribbon, against a pink background – Jan. 26 after Yow, 66, died Jan. 24.

But sophomore Forbes Starling, 19, said that he heard from other students that Yow’s mural was defaced after the N.C. State men's basketball team's home game against rival University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on Saturday.

A light-blue mustache was painted on Yow’s face, and spray-painted phrases included “Cancer rules” and profanity.

Dawkins said the comments were also painted in light blue and made reference to the rivalry between N.C. State and UNC.

“What was said here was certainly hurtful and painful and goes beyond any type of rivalry these two campuses might have,” Dawkins said.

Burnette told WRAL News on Sunday he was glad to find students painting over the controversial comments.

“I just told them, ‘thank you.’ That was awesome that someone even cared enough about it. It just shows the students how much we appreciate what she did for this university,” Burnette said.

Sgt. John Seay, with N.C. State campus police, said it is unknown who defaced the mural. Automated surveillance cameras monitor both sides of the tunnel, but Seay did not know if they captured the act.

NCSU police have been briefed about the graffiti, but it will not likely be treated as a criminal matter, Seay said.

Starling said it is common for rival teams to write statements on the tunnel following games. The tunnel is normally under watch prior to games.

“I would hate to think that a Carolina student or fan would ever do something like that. Kay Yow was a model for all of us, and the Carolina family mourns her loss along with all of our N.C. State friends,” UNC Chancellor Holden Thorp said in a statement Sunday evening.

The Free Expression Tunnel made headlines in November, when four students admitted to painting racial slurs following the presidential election.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • superman Feb 2, 2009

    Who really cares what is painted on the tunnel? Good, bad, indifferent?? I dont care what their opinion is or how they feel and it doesnt make any difference to Coach Yow's memory. Just something for you cry babies to moan and groan and complain about. It is amazing that when a person dies that can become a saint overnight. Just looking now to see just how much coverage they give Jim Long on WRAL.

  • Buddy1 Feb 2, 2009

    gordonbabe: And shame on you for keeping it going. Why did you post if you want it to stop?

  • gordonbabe Feb 2, 2009

    Funny thing is... it probably wasn't a UNC fan at all... just someone wanting to stir up trouble. UNC didn't try to take newspapers from State's campus... UNC didn't start feuding a few years ago with the paint wars... More than likely this was just some brats trying to stir the ire of both sides.

    Obviously it worked. Shame on them, us and WRAL for keeping it going.

  • WRALwontdeletemyaccount Feb 2, 2009

    "too bad we can't find those responsible for the damage."

    What damage?

    It's a public scribbling wall, not the Sistine Chapel

  • WRALwontdeletemyaccount Feb 2, 2009

    "It was just as much of a Hate crime or the ones on Obama "

    That's absurd. A "free expression" area means just that.

    What part of "Free Expression" do you not understand?

    Note that it is NOT called "Free expression I agree with"

  • james27613 Feb 2, 2009

    too bad we can't find those responsible for the damage.

    Would be interesting to let them 'walk in her sneakers'
    by giving them some radiation therapy along with IV fluids
    and chemotherapy.

    would make them rethink their remarks.

  • BucksandPackFan Feb 2, 2009

    As a grad of both NCSU and UNC I am appalled at some of the comments here. The tunnel has and always will be a place for students to without fear of consequences paint their thoughts. However, that being said while the tribute to Kay Yow was never probably going to be permanent, it is unbelievable that so close to her death someone would choose to paint over it in such a defamatory way. It is likened to pouring salt in an open wound. Her death was too recent for hearts to have healed and someone who has no character chose to deface the tribute. I don't know that we will ever know if it was a UNC student/fan who did this or someone who knew that using carolina blue paint would lead to the conclusion that it was and thus incite State fans, but the point is that Coach Yow whether you were a State fan or not has lived a life that has inspired many to have hope when little else in their life offered hope and for someone to attack her and her tribute is beyond belief.

  • Dark_Horse Feb 2, 2009

    razor- well said.

  • leo-nc Feb 2, 2009

    "Actually, yes, it is a hate crime."----

    Actually, NO it is not. I'd like you to show me where you come up with your conclusion please. Go ahead. Show me some statutes whether it be federal or state. Show me how this violates the first amendment. Explain.

  • endless Feb 2, 2009

    Yeah - class trophy for yelling "I hate you tyler" during the national anthem - some class!