May 15, 2016

We did an article about this last year but here is a follow-up piece by Sam Werner of the Post-Gazette addressing Pitt’s new athletic logo that is to be unveiled on Wednesday (no big surprise that it is the Script PITT from the 1980s) and how it does NOT represent the University as a whole…  a visual reminder here:

Pitt TE coach tweets photoshopped Swimsuit Issue cover

From Werner’s article:

“If the athletic department is the front porch, then the Pitt script logo, set to be re-introduced as the school’s primary athletic mark at a Petersen Events Center unveiling Wednesday, is a sign on the front of the house.

Often times, though, that sign may not represent every room in the house.

Like Pitt, many universities across the country have developed distinct university logos separate from their athletic marks, as they try to strike a balance between the visibility athletics can provide and the academic pursuits of the greater institution.

“Most of the time, the rationale is that, look, we have two different products here,” said Antonio Williams, a sport and fitness brand researcher and assistant professor at Indiana University in Bloomington, Ind. “We don’t necessarily want to take away the academic rigor and prestige from the university side by associating with athletics. There may be certain liabilities by associating yourself with athletics.”

Pitt’s Office of University Communications is the controlling entity for Pitt’s ‘brand’ and how they are used. I think it is interesting that after so many years of having the University’s seal…

…be updated yet again – or even discarded.  Here is the Communication Office boss’s take on the seal:

In Pitt’s case, while the script logo will replace the old block lettering as the school’s athletic mark, the university’s primary logo will still be its seal, which has evolved over the school’s 229-year history.

Susan Rogers, who was recently hired as Pitt’s vice chancellor for communications, admitted that a seal probably isn’t ideal for a university’s primary mark, and should be reserved for more formal situations like diplomas and campus landmarks.

“The brand associated with the University of Pittsburgh, the promise the institution makes to people is very healthy and very robust,” Ms. Rogers said. “The way we express it through our graphics, we could probably improve on that.”

 It is almost like Ms Rodgers is a bit jealous of the Athletic department in that they are getting a lot of publicity with this draaaawn out sports logo change.

But there are drawbacks to having one overarching visual stamp for the entirety of the university:

Fairly or unfairly, there can be a negative connotation attached to schools that identify too strongly with their athletics programs, according to Mark Francis, professor of sports business at UCLA’s Center for Management of Enterprise in Media, Entertainment and Sports.

“They want to be known as academic institutions and not just for athletics,” Mr. Francis said. ”That’s the danger of [using] solely just the athletics mark. You’re known as a sports school and not necessarily a good academic school. A lot of schools get nervous about that.”

I tend to agree with this thought. Believe it or not the University of Pittsburgh is not universally known as “Pitt”.  Internationally Pitt has worked hard to keep the word “Pittsburgh” in its label because of the, now, positive connotations the City has in reference to Educational, Medical and High Tech areas.  We fans and students tend to think locally and we assume everyone knows who and what “Pitt” is, but that really isn’t the case.

Steve Pederson went about addressing this ‘connectivity’ issue completely the wrong way in his trying to tie Pitt athletics to the city of Pittsburgh by breaking traditional precepts.  But his idea overall is actually embraced in other areas of the University’s missions – the much more important ones than athletics are and what make up the vast majority of the reason the University exists in the first place.

Here is the University’s Mission Statement.

The University’s mission is to:

Provide high-quality undergraduate programs in the arts and sciences and professional fields, with emphasis upon those of special benefit to the citizens of Pennsylvania;

Offer superior graduate programs in the arts and sciences and the professions that respond to the needs of Pennsylvania, as well as to the broader needs of the nation and the world;

Engage in research, artistic, and scholarly activities that advance learning through the extension of the frontiers of knowledge and creative endeavor;

Cooperate with industrial and governmental institutions to transfer knowledge in science, technology, and health care;

Offer continuing education programs adapted to the personal enrichment, professional upgrading, and career advancement interests and needs of adult Pennsylvanians; and

Make available to local communities and public agencies the expertise of the University in ways that are consistent with the primary teaching and research functions and contribute to social, intellectual, and economic development in the Commonwealth, the nation, and the world.

Athletics aren’t mentioned so I say keep the two logos separate and don’t water down either one.  Besides, who wants to be like PSU or WVU?

Remember this from the Wannstedt days when we first contracted with Nike?  That was in 2009 and we’ve had a deal with them ever since.

For fans who may not know the business behind the partnerships of universities and apparel companies – Pitt can’t do a thing with uniforms, helmets, colors, logos, etc… without approval from Nike. In essence Nike calls the shots about changes – but in this case you can bet they are salivating over what will probably be the biggest boost in sales they will see in contract with Pitt.

The relationship with Nike hasn’t been all that cuddly in the past (from an old P-G article in 2004):

“The Univ. of Pittsburgh filed a lawsuit in Allegheny County (PA) yesterday asking a judge for permission to end its two-year-old arrangement with Nike to supply football uniforms and equipment, according to the Pittsburgh TRIBUNE-REVIEW. The university argues that it never signed Nike’s August 26, 2002, offer to provide the team with 100 free uniforms and other gear for three years.

Nike accuses Pittsburgh “of trying to back out of the deal to seek a more lucrative offer from rival manufacturers,” adding that the school “sought to free itself of its tie with Nike after the company declined to offer free equipment to other teams at the university”

Everything that says “Pitt” in almost any form has to be approved by the administration before it goes public.  Here is the Oakland Zoo’s logo:

This is owned by Pitt and is sold through the team store.  I’m sure Pitt donates $$$ back to bolster it’s biggest student cheering and support organization but the bottom line is if something resembles or conveys the University of Pittsburgh in any way it is, or will be, copyrighted.

Wednesday will be a fun day although I’m holding my breath that Pitt won’t do something stupid with the uniforms in dancing to Nike’s tune to generate more sales of different colors and uniform combinations. We see other schools make fools of themselves with this – most notably my neighboring university Maryland.

All in all their uniforms, provided by alumni Kevin Plank’s Under Armour company, are pretty grotesque:

Anyway – let’s remember this quote about the new uniforms and all the rumored styles and colors that have been passed around in the media (most notably KDKA)…here is what they said we’d see:

I was at the Alumni Meet and Greet that Narduzzi and staff held in Washington, DC when Narduzzi started talking about a possible uniform change.  But later on this is what he said when asked about the plans for the uniforms:

“I guess there’s a buzz out there about the uniforms … I guess somebody’s got their own design. Our athletic director in charge of football Chris LaSala had mentioned to me there were some diagrams of what the uniforms were supposed to look like and I looked at them and I was like ‘Wow, those are nothing like they’re gonna look like… So all those fake ones out there (Note: KDKA’s) you can’t believe any of what they look like.”

Since I’m pretty conservative when it comes to Pitt I would like to see us go back to the old mid-’70s through mid-’80s look of the Dorsett and Marino days, at least in the main.  It is associated with better football teams and winning seasons.

Although I do like what we wear now also.  I can live with a combination of both – today’s colors and uniforms with Pitt script as seen here.  I’m sure we’ll see more Old Gold or Mustard colors though.

But here is something interesting.  Since I have been interested in this subject – since DW’s time and have had the opportunity to talk with players and their parents I have asked many times if Pitt’s uniform had anything to do with their decision to come to Pitt – and never once got a positive answer.

I think it is an urban myth that recruits are swayed toward a school because of ‘cool’ or “lit’ uniforms and certainly not when stacked up against all the other variables each university has to offer in other areas of athletics and academics.

We need to do the uniforms to create a strong brand for the University of Pittsburgh – and not give one bit of thought as to whether or not it will attract a recruit or two.


Erie – Saban might have had a little bit to do with Bama’s comeback to greatness. Haha.

Comment by Upittbaseball 05.17.16 @ 9:43 am

Upitt – here’s hoping the Mich St experience Saban had translates into even a fraction of the success for HCPN at Pitt. They both have a similar private & intense demeanor.

By the way, did you see how tough the Pitt baseball team played #4 Miami over the weekend? Even though they were swept, they went extra innings in one game and lost another in late innings.

Does anyone know where I can buy a Pitt script driver head cover? I’m ready to retire my old Pitt block lettered Roc.


Comment by Erie Express 05.17.16 @ 10:51 am

Erie, I gave up looking for Pitt golf gear a few years ago. Not sure if they even sell it, but it sure gets my goat when I walk into a Dick’s and see OSU,Miami and other teams golf bags. Last I checked Dick’s is a western PA retailer and we can’t even get them to help in the branding of Pitt athletics.

I do think Kelly makes the jump to the NFL. I thought there were some rumors of contacts and mutual interest this year even.

As far as losing some locals to ND, that is fine. When you lose them to Dairy College, it is more troubling. I think all of the offers to qb’s in the last couple of weeks was because Pitt had an inkling that the jurkovec was heading west. I turned down a chance to work at ND this last year. Perhaps it is because I visited in February. YUK!

Comment by dhuffdaddy 05.17.16 @ 12:07 pm

Powered by WordPress ©

Site Meter