MSU has changed the name of its fight song from “MSU Fight Song” to “Victory For MSU,” Director of the Spartan Marching Band, John Madden, said.
“It’s really a celebration of 100 years and a way to spruce it up,” Madden said.
The MSU fight song was written in 1915 by Francis Irving Lankey, a civil engineering major and yellmaster at then-Michigan Agricultural College, along with fellow student Arthur L. Sayles. The two were inspired to write the song in 1913 after road wins over then-national powers Michigan and Wisconsin, according to Spartan Athletics.
“I don’t think it is a utilitarian thing just for when the team scores touchdowns, it’s meaning is deeper, more than just charging up a team,” Madden said. “It is in the chemistry lab, the law school and Wall Street, it is all aspects of being a Spartan.”
Lankey passed away in 1919 when he crashed in an Army Air Corps. air demonstration. His former girlfriend, unnamed in the Spartan Athletics report, published his song and sold 770 copies for 50 cents each at the 1919 homecoming pep assembly. The assembly sold out in less than 30 minutes, according to the report, and in 1920 the Military Band started playing the fight song at home football games.
The name change is the first alteration to the song since Michigan State College changed its name to Michigan State University in 1964 and the lyrics followed. The other lyrical changes came in 1925 when the school’s nickname changed from the Aggies to the Spartans and the college name changed from Michigan Agricultural College to Michigan State College.