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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

August 16, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

ColumnsThe Hot Stove

The Hot Stove: New Ithaca College athletics logo falls flat

When Ithaca College unveiled its new athletics logo Aug. 20, there was no great revolt or protest nor was there a grand celebration.

When the athletic department released the new logo on social media, one Facebook commenter on the Ithaca College Athletics page summed up the ho-hum attitude toward the new logo, “That’s it? That’s what all the hype was about? Nice logo though.”

The solid blue, bold letters are a step up from the previous logo, but aside from the shield, not much else is different. The word “Ithaca” is more distinguished in bold print, and the yellow swoosh was replaced with a shield outlining the words “Ithaca Athletics.”

For the most part, it seems like the Office of Intercollegiate Athletics made the simplest choice possible that would irritate the fewest number of people.

To be fair, the new logo has brought about necessary changes to the athletics office branding — including a newly developed website and a solution to the lack of consistency in uniforms — as one of the biggest selling points was that student-athletes requested to become more unified as a collective athletic program.

Before the new logo, the athletics office said the biggest concern of student-athletes was not feeling like they belonged to the same department. But each varsity team still has its own identity based on its performance on the field and the relationships among teammates. Each team also has its independent goals, and it’s difficult to imagine that having a shared logo will make teams play better or be more respected by their opponents.

At the same time, it wasn’t the alumni, student-athletes or even the student body making the final decisions on a logo. The college hired SME Branding, a brand-building and design consultancy firm in New York City, in November 2013 to execute the design of a new logo. Though focus group discussions and community feedback were parts of the process, the athletic department made the final decision.

The college could have made this process more fun by asking its art department, or even the Ithaca community, to put the new logo to a contest. No offense to SME Branding, but having a new logo designed from a student or community representative of the college would have helped involve the student body rather than outsourcing the project to an outside company. It also would have saved the college the money that went into the nearly year-long process.

Sure, if the idea for student logos didn’t fit what the student-athletes, the alumni or the athletic department were looking for, then it would have been perfectly reasonable to call up an outside company.

Change is hard, and we’ll survive with this new logo, but please spare us the reasoning that it brings more athletes together. In the end, I think it just made us all forget about the mascot search debacle back in 2011.