Mass communication junior Joel D’Aubin was thrilled to see his picture in a broadcast email to the entire student body Tuesday afternoon, until he noticed it had been edited to cover the cross painted on his shoulder.

The photo depicted four football fans  — D’Aubin, Ben Wallace and University seniors Cameron Cooke and AJ Fagan — in body paint with crosses emblazoned on their shoulders. The group, called “The Painted Posse,” has passed on the tradition of body paint and crosses on the heart for seven football seasons.

“Those crosses were airbrushed out. ... We don’t want to convey any religious or political message,” said Associate Vice Chancellor for University Relations and Senior Associate Athletics Director Herb Vincent.

D’Aubin suspected the University didn’t want to offend anyone by showing the crosses, but he was curious why the photo wasn’t edited on the University’s Sports website or Facebook page. 

The first time D’Aubin saw the edited photo was in the mass email. 

The picture has already been picked up by multiple news outlets that didn’t edit it, D’Aubin said. 

It was within the University’s legal rights to manipulate the photo, Vincent said.

When students purchase football tickets, they grant the University the right to use their names and any pictures taken during the game for any University purposes.

LSU Sports Information photographer and biological engineering senior Martin McCallister took the photograph.

“As a photographer, I submit a raw .jpeg file, untouched,” McCallister said. “I just submit whatever comes off the camera.”

After photographers submit their shots, Vincent said LSU Athletics commonly edits photos. For example, if a football player’s jersey is wrinkled in a photo LSU Athletics wants to use on the front of a brochure, they’ll edit out the crease.

The photo, added to the University’s Facebook page Sunday, has already garnered nearly 3,000 likes on Facebook and 200 shares.

Some students on Facebook began creating their own comparison photos, and many received numerous comments concerned with the reasoning behind removing the crosses.

Most members of the Painted Posse are members of the Baptist Collegiate Ministry or The Refuge.

“We do this because we love LSU football, but we have a greater love for Christ,” D’Aubin said. “It’s cool to be watching ‘Sports Center’ on ESPN, something that’s shown throughout America, and see the cross.”

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