How mascot change would affect athletics
By Ben Markley
Whether they’re brown-and-gold Kansans, maroon-and-gold Cavaliers or teal-and-yellow Bisons, arguably nobody is more affected by the school’s current rebranding process than student athletes.
Jim Dice, health, physical education, and recreation facility and clinic coordinator, said he understood the Bison to be a proposition and nothing more.
“It’s not a done deal being Bisons,” he said. “[The college] wanted to do research and move our brand, and that’s what the company came back with: a color recommendation and a mascot recommendation.”
Carl Heinrich, assistant dean of Athletics, has never experienced a rebranding during his time at the college.
“I don’t know what that transition would be like,” he said. “We did go through a change in the eighties from the Kansans to the Cavaliers. Everybody survived that transition, so it’s something that can be done.”
Heinrich served on a committee in the beginning of the rebranding process. He said he was surprised by recent talk of mascot and color changes.
“Never in the process did I hear of changing the mascot name or changing colors anywhere along that line,” he said.
Heinrich is not enthusiastic about the current proposition for a new mascot.
“I guess if I’m leaning toward a direction, it’s not to change the Cavalier,” he said.
Dice stressed that the branding process and the actual graphics of the new brand are two different things.
“Branding is getting out and making your name in the community,” he said.
The graphics are used to stick the brand in people’s heads.
“Go talk to marketing teachers,” he said. “If you see the golden arches, you think McDonalds. And with the college, if you see this bison or this sunflower, you think Johnson County Community College.”
To Dice, the effect of the graphics is more important than the mascot or colors.
“The sunflower or the bison—does that make a difference?” he said. “If we make an impact in the community, I think it does.”
Heinrich said changing colors would be an expensive process for the athletic department. He said uniforms would cost about $10,000-25,000 per team and take about five years to fully replace.
“You’d have the women’s basketball team in maroon and gold, and maybe your men’s team in green and yellow,” he said. “Same night, two different colors. That’d be kind of awkward.”
Dice said the colors themselves present a financial inconvenience.
“The colors that they’re portraying with uniforms would kill us because those are custom colors,” he said.
Not only would a color change affect uniforms, but it would also affect gym floors, banners, scoreboards and even other Kansas community colleges that have a Cavalier logo on their gym wall.
Dice said effective rebranding would be a good move, despite expenses.
“If it moves us forward, it’s an investment,” he said. “That’s how I see the cost: investment in the future.”
Dice said the entire school currently uses different graphics to represent its different departments. He said the rebranding would be most successful if everyone would embrace the new brand.
“If you went and changed the Jayhawk, you’d be affecting the KU med center, the nursing program, all these places that embrace the Jayhawk,” he said. “Everybody here should embrace [the brand]. It shouldn’t be just athletics.”
Dice said he understood sentimental attachment to the old mascot.
“I’m sure we’d really like to keep the Cavaliers because we’ve been the Cavaliers for a long time, but ask the students,” Dice said.
Student Simon Stegall liked the proposed colors and mascot.
“I never understood the whole Cavalier thing,” he said. “The Bison makes sense since we’re in Kansas.”
Heinrich said he would like a more involved process if the college decides to change the logo.
“I think it would be appropriate for the company to come in and survey our coaches and alumni and current student athletes to see how they feel,” he said. “As far as I know, none of them were asked at any point in time.”
In the end, Dice said the school’s main priority was to stay focused on moving forward.
“I don’t think we should lose sleep over what our color is,” he said.
Contact Ben Markley, staff reporter, at email@example.com.