It started out with 500 suggestions, narrowed down to eight: Coyotes, Blue Hawks, Giants, River Dogs, Bobcats, Freedom, Hornets and Pack.
All names were tested for relevance, political correctness and media friendliness. They also had to be fun, trend proof and unique. The result of months of interviews and surveys with students, faculty, alumni and trustees resulted in one name: Bobcats.
“The Bobcat population in Hamden just went up with 6,000,” said Jack McDonald, director of Athletics and Recreation, as the name of the endangered animal was released at a press conference last Tuesday.
After being the Braves for more than 50 years, our Division I teams now have to live up to being fierce, fast, competitive and strong, words commonly used to describe this nocturnal animal.
“We believe the Bobcats will help strengthen Quinnipiac athletics, and in so doing, create an emblem our athletes and fans will wear with honor and pride,” said McDonald.
Currently the only other northeast school that uses Bobcats as a nickname is Bates College in Maine, a Division III school.
The process of the name change started in December of last year, when the Board of Trustees voted to drop “Braves” as a nickname, mainly because it could be seen as offensive to Native Americans. Another reason was that certain universities, like University of Wisconsin, will not play any other school with a native American nickname.
As the new nickname was disclosed, President John Lahey promised that the school colors will only be slightly altered.
“We may see a stronger gold, and a little more red in the new logo,” Lahey said, but explained that the blue would remain the same. “We’ve certainly changed enough at Quinnipiac.”
Manuel Carreiro, dean of Student Affairs, said he thinks the name change is a good move for the institution.
“This is the first time we are able to have a mascot,” said Carreiro. “It’s an animal, and that’s what the majority of the students wanted.”
Carreiro said that since change can be very difficult, people might feel better about it since they were actually involved in making this decision.
“I think it’s the best possible name that we could have chosen,” he said.
Some students, however, were hesitant to the name change.
“When your school is made after a Native American tribe, you kind of have to have a nickname related to it,” said Kristin DiNicola. “It made more sense to have stayed with the Braves. I didn’t think it was that bad.”
One of the reasons why the Bobcat was chosen over some of the other options was the fact that bobcats are common throughout New England and prefer mountainous, rocky country with patches of thick undergrowth. They are accomplished hunters, strong enough to take down deer.
“I don’t like it,” said Michelle Breton, a QU senior. “I’m so used to Braves. I would have thought they’d come up with something more related to Quinnipiac, more original.”
Some students also felt they were not a part of the selection process.
“Students had the opportunity to give input on the mascot through attending an open forum and SGA meetings or through email, but many students did not take that opportunity,” said Michael O’Neill, vice president of of Public Relations at the Student Government Association. “Students and athletes were on the committees, and [President] Lahey actually listened to all these inputs before he made a decision.”
Lahey said that he really hopes students will like Bobcats.
“This is just the beginning. Once we get the mascot out and students behind it… it’s going to be terrific.”
At the de-branding initiative on Aug. 27, students were lined up all the way over to the library to get one of the 500 t-shirt tickets.
“At first I heard it was coyotes, and I was more excited about that, but the Bobcats are growing on me,” said Cameron Smith.
Lahey said after the de-branding that the student reaction was wonderful.
“I think [the new name] will add an excitement and identity that we’ve been lacking,” he said.
The Mascot will be introduced on Nov. 14, during QU’s annual Midnight Madness.
Editor’s Note: Jim Ryan from SME, the New York based company who designed QU’s new logo, graduated from Quinnipiac in 2002 and was a goalie on the men’s soccer team.