Nicholls State revamps mascot

Advocate River parishes bureau
Published: Jul 31, 2009

Nicholls State University has put a new face on its venerable colonel mascot, whose previous depictions were retired in 2004 amid concerns they recalled a gray-uniformed Confederate officer and the Old South.

The change to a red-and-black-colored “Col. Tillou” image comes after a yearlong process that involved five months of focus group meetings among  students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members, Nicholls State officials said in a statement Thursday.

The Ohio design firm Rickabaugh Graphics, which Nicholls State hired  in June 2008 to create the image, met with the focus groups to develop the new look, officials said.

University spokesman Graham Harvey said the new mascot, seen rearing back to swing a saber in a stylized logo provided Thursday, is a much fiercer-looking and more contemporary figure than the previous image.

“It is better for this day and age,” Harvey said.

The new, updated athletics logo will hit Thibodaux stores selling university merchandise Saturday, Harvey said.

The costumed mascot will be unveiled at 11:30 a.m. Aug. 27 during a “Welcome Back Day” celebration at the Nicholls State Quadrangle, officials said.

Nicholls State President Stephen T. Hulbert retired the 42-year-old, gray-uniformed caricature and the bearded mascot costume in spring 2004, officials said.

In a message to faculty, staff and students at the time, Hulbert wrote the colonel mascot’s uniform had over a period of years “taken on similarities reminiscent of Civil War history.” The gray uniform is most often associated with the old Confederacy.

According to news reports in 2004, the president of the campus chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People had asked administrators in late 2003 to revise the image because it looked like a Confederate colonel.

The image, the NAACP had said, did not reflect the campus makeup at a time when 17 percent of students were black.

Harvey said students were part of the process of developing the new image. A message left with the Student Government Association was not returned Thursday.

The colonel mascot is often called “Tillou,” after the university’s namesake, Gov. Francis Tillou Nicholls, a brigadier general in the Confederate army, Harvey said.

The colonel mascot was created when Nicholls State had an ROTC program and the highest rank cadets in the program could reach was colonel, Hulbert wrote in 2004.

Nicholls State has been without a visual representation since the 2004 retirement, although the “Colonel” remained the official mascot for Nicholls and the name “Tillou” was not retired, officials said.

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