Catawba College responds after social media swirl over new athletics logo

Many expressed displeasure over removal of logo that included stylized letter C and feathers
The reveal of the new logo for Catawba College Athletics was something that had been anticipated for weeks
Published: Apr. 27, 2022 at 1:41 PM EDT
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SALISBURY, N.C. (WBTV) - The reveal of the new logo for Catawba College Athletics was something that had been anticipated for weeks, but the reaction on social media was likely not at all what was anticipated.

“I understand, change, change is difficult and we have a lot of respect for the opinions, especially, I think, many alumni aren’t exactly pleased right now and we understand that,” said Michelle Caddigan, Director of Athletics. “We appreciate their passion for Catawba College Athletics and so I just hope that we need to do some better education about the history and how this all came about. We haven’t had a lot of consistency with our brand and in order for us to be strong and powerful and to move forward, we needed consistency.”

The school revealed the new block “C” on its social media and web pages on Tuesday morning. Almost immediately there were negative comments from people who did not like the fact that the school was dropping the familiar stylized C and feathers logo for the new look.

“This isn’t new,” Caddigan added, “we’re reverting back to our history and we’re proud of that history. I just hope that in time people will come to love this brand as much as they did the former.”

Comments on the Catawba College Athletics page compared the new logo to a local high school logo, and many questioned why the change was necessary. A post revealing the new logo on the WBTV-Salisbury Facebook page had more than 700 comments but early on Wednesday afternoon, most of them negative.

“As an Indigenous person, it (the old logo) doesn’t offend me,” wrote one reader. “Truthfully, I look at all of these as a tribute. Redskins, Braves, heck UNCP which is in Lumberton has the Braves as their mascot. Change is always good, but change because you think you “might” offend someone is wrong.”

“Keep the old one! No reason to change it! It’s not offensive!” wrote another reader.

“As someone who cares about Catawba College and its image, I’m completely heartbroken. I just cannot fathom just how little the administration cares about the school’s image/branding. The first problem was the terrible font/wordmark that seemed to be forced on athletics some years ago. I was hoping against hope that with this relaunch they would fix things but instead, they’ve swung from something awful, subjectively and technically, to something incredibly bland to the point of being demeaning,” wrote another.

Some readers did like the new look, but the overwhelming majority of comments were negative. The new logo is actually the older of the two logos. The block C was the logo the school used from around 1935 to 1962, according to Catawba College officials.

“We’re bringing a familiar bold and historic look back into the 21st century,” the Athletic Department posted when the reveal took place. “This is Catawba College Athletics.”

Head football coach Curtis Walker says the new look gives the team a “fresh start.”

“Something different, a new era, an opportunity to start fresh and I think that’s what this new logo will give us,” Walker said.

The teams at Catawba College are still the Indians, even if the logo does not infer the reference. Earlier this month the Catawba Nation and the college reached an agreement that allows the school to use the name in return for scholarships and other opportunities for Catawba Nation students.

In 2007, the Nation and College came together to discuss the name of the College’s nickname, the Indians. The initial agreement allowed one student to receive a four-year scholarship every four years. Now that agreement has been updated to offer a four-year scholarship to a Catawba Nation student every year. This change reflects ongoing collaborations to further strengthen the relationship between Catawba College and the Catawba Nation, in hopes to offer more educational resources and opportunities for tribal students along with education to Catawba College students about the rich history and culture of the Catawba Nation.

“Catawba College and the Catawba Nation have been intrinsically linked since the College’s founding over 170 years ago,” said Dr. Jared R. Tice, senior vice president for the college experience & dean of students at Catawba College. “This new annual scholarship offering further demonstrates the strengthened partnership of our two communities working together to advance the educational opportunities for Catawba citizens. We look forward to creating additional pathways and opportunities with the Nation in the very near future.”

The school says the teams will remain Indians, at least for the present.

“Yes, that is not changing,” Caddigan said. “I think there may be some conversations , there’s been no decisions, I can confirm that, but there are questions about that and at this time we are the Indians. I do know that our president will be talking with the Catawba Nation and the chief there and ask for input from him as to how we should move forward with that.”

Several student-athletes expressed support for the new branding.

“Tradition in that branding is really really important, our tradition is who we are as a college,” said Leon Heiermann. “It is our tradition, we are going back to where we came from before C with feathers.”

“I think it’s going to be good, I think it’s bringing back our tradition, so,” said Katie Webb. Webb served on the design team for the new branding. “I haven’t heard that many negative comments from the student body. I think a lot of people are just interested in where this new logo is going to take us in the future.”

“Right now, I love the logo, it’s minimalistic and reminds me of something like 80′s or something,” said Veronika Voliakova. “I like it the way it is. I like it more than the previous logo.”

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