COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) _ A request by animal activists to get the University of South Carolina to drop its fighting gamecock nickname has been rejected by the school's president.
``The University of South Carolina is proud to be known as the Fighting Gamecocks, and we will remain so for many years to come,'' USC President John Palms said in a letter to the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
Palms said fighting cocks symbolized honor and merit in China and were considered sacred announcers of the sun in ancient Greece.
``A gamecock is a fighting rooster known for its spirit and courage,'' the university's athletic department said in a release. ``Those traits certainly characterize the determination, enthusiasm and passion of Carolina's athletic teams and fans.''
PETA said it sought the name change because cockfighting is barbaric and has been outlawed in South Carolina since 1887.
Fighting the birds is illegal everywhere in the United States except New Mexico, Oklahoma and Louisiana.