UNLV is one of two programs at the FBS level to use the "Rebel" nickname, along with Ole Miss. In both cases, the name has ties back to the confederacy.
As local governments and other organizations seek to remove statues and other iconography honoring the confederacy and other racist institutions, UNLV is getting out ahead of things. A statue of Hey Reb!, the school's mascot, is being removed from campus.
"In recent conversations with the donor, we mutually agreed it was best to remove the statue and return it," said UNLV president Marta Meana, per TMZ. "I have had discussions with multiple individuals and stakeholder groups from campus and the community on how best the university can move forward given recent events throughout our nation. That includes the future of our mascot."
That seems to indicate that this may not just be the removal of a statue. Hey Reb! has been a UNLV institution since 1983.
Hey Reb! was not UNLV's original mascot. He was created after the school elected to replace Beauregard the Wolf, which fans believed too closely resembled the mascot of the school's archrival, the Nevada Wolf Pack, who have a trio of wolf mascots. Beauregard was also controversial given his gray uniform, which closely resembled that of a confederate soldier.
Beauregard was originally replaced by a Minuteman mascot, before Hey Reb! was created.
The school did not have a nickname for its athletic teams before 1968, when it adopted the Rebels. Some alternatives were considered at the time that it replaced Beauregard, but were ultimately dismissed. Now it sounds like those discussions may return.