W&M revamps "Tribe" sports logos

srobertsjr@vagazette.com

After William and Mary football coach Jimmye Laycock and Athletic Director Samantha Huge had a chance encounter in an elevator with a stranger, the school has revamped its sports branding and logos.

The College of William and Mary announced Wednesday “bold new” logos and branding for the college’s sports program, according to a William and Mary Athletics news release.

The move will bring sports team logos more in line with the university’s brand, the release said.

"We believe that aligning ourselves more closely with the William and Mary brand provides us with greater bandwidth," Huge said in the release. "I am confident that great things lie ahead for William and Mary Athletics and these changes will mutually benefit athletics and the entire university in the years to come.”

The new designs include a more “aggressive” Griffin logo, as well as an interlocking “W&M” that stylistically dates back to 1899, according to the release.

Huge made the decision to bring the athletics department branding into the fold of the university’s branding after a chance encounter in an elevator in North Carolina, according to the release.

Huge and coach Laycock were on an elevator before a football game at Elon University in North Carolina when a man got on and asked them what “Tribe” was, the release said.

Laycock explained to the man that it was the College of William and Mary sports team name, according to the release. The man told Laycock and Huge he recognized the college’s name and the City of Williamsburg, but not the “Tribe.”

While the school’s sports mascots, names and logos have changed over the years from the Indians to an alligator to buckskin-clad students, the current mascot has been made more “aggressive,” the release said.

"Having a strong and recognizable brand is important as we pursue excellence as a department," Huge said in the release. "While we remain the Tribe, the new logo provides us with a more powerful connection to the university and will allow us to more seamlessly elevate the entire institution's visibility on a national scale."

Going forward, the newly designed logos will replace the current athletic emblems at sports stadiums and fields across William and Mary properties, the release said.

The new logos will be phased in over the next few years as funds are available or as equipment needs to be replaced, according to senior assistant athletics director Peter Clawson.

An example of a change will be the refinished Kaplan Arena basketball court, Clawson said. The college updated the mid-court as the floor was due for maintenance.

“It won’t be all of a sudden,” college sports information director Kris Sears said. “[Old logos] will be slowly transitioned out and updated through the course of natural use.”

That being said, all student-athletes will have at least one piece of equipment or clothing with the new logo on it, Clawson said.

Although the athletics department “remains committed” to the nickname, the release said, the new branding will destress it.

The word Tribe “stands for community and a group with common interests,” according to the release. It became the sole nickname for the college’s sports programs in the 1980s.

For Justin Schoonmaker, creative director of William and Mary's University Communications unit, the new branding is personal.

As valedictorian of the class of 2009, the release said, he takes immense pride in his alma mater.

"I have a huge stake here, because I'm an alumnus and I work here and I care a lot about what happens with the athletics program and what happens with the university's brand over the next 10 years,” Schoonmaker said in the release. "I care that our messages get out there clearly. I care about people recognizing the excellence that's here, and I care that our song gets sung and that we have a say in it, and it's not just other people dictating what it sounds like.”

Roberts can be reached at 757-604-1329 and on Twitter @SPRobertsJr.

Copyright © 2019, The Virginia Gazette
72°