THE CONTROVERSY brewing over plans to upgrade the Texas Tech University seal is nothing more than a proverbial tempest in a teapot.

Through research conducted by an Chicago firm, Tech system administrators learned that Texas Tech's reputation beyond regional and state borders is based largely on its athletic accomplishments.

Athletic accomplishments frequently get more publicity for institutions than their academic pursuits. However, the Tech administration believes the time has come to bolster the visibility of the university's academic and research accomplishments as well.

One of the first steps toward accomplishing that goal is to establish a unified and professional "visual identity" for Texas Tech's academic and research enterprise.

Currently, each college, department and program has its own logo, many of which have no Texas Tech identifier. These hundreds of disparate academic identities will be replaced with one unified academic symbol.

Meanwhile, there are no plans to replace the beloved Double T, which was created and is licensed by the Athletics Department. The Double T will continue to be used for organizations and activities that promote and celebrate the traditions, spirit and pride of Texas Tech. It will just represent a different sphere of the new unified academic mark.

To create this new academic identity, Tech simply has updated the hand-drawn 1923 Texas Tech official seal, and the "shield" inside the seal, to 21st-century graphic standards.

This procedure involves cleaning up the seal and modernizing it as part of a large marketing campaign that it hopes will enhance the image of Texas Tech not just in this region or in the state, but also nationally and internationally.

The updated seal created as part of the new image campaign did not include the cotton bolls on the design formally adopted in 1953. However, after subsequent discussions and after hearing from many TTU supporters, the individuals making these plans want to include a representation of the cotton plant at the bottom of the seal.

In their willingness to restore cotton to a place of prominence on the ring of the revised seal, Tech administrators are paying tribute to the heritage of West Texas and West Texans, and to the people who have been instrumental in supporting Texas Tech since 1923.

It's probably safe to assume that before this tempest swirled into public view, most Tech faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends could not accurately describe all of the elements - an eagle, book, star, key, lamp and cotton bolls - that appeared on the Tech seal.

But the real issue is not about a minor facelift for the TTU seal. It's about the university system's goal to increase Texas Tech's prominence throughout the nation and around the globe. The new image campaign will allow the university system to speak with one voice.

As such, it deserves Tech supporters' "seal" of approval.