With a tribute to the past but a new design and color scheme that athletic department officials believe will attract and inspire future Sun Devils, Arizona State officially unveiled its new pitchfork logo and uniforms to the public on Tuesday.
Teaming up with Nike for the project a year ago, the Sun Devils unveiled a series of new jersey designs for all intercollegiate sports with variations involving maroon, gold and black color combinations.
t was a $1 million undertaking paid for by Nike, ASU donors and CLC, which handles the school's licensing fees. An ASU spokesperson said no taxpayer or student fees were used.
Among the significant alterations presented under a "It's Time" mantra before a packed audience of boosters, student-athletes, staff and alumni at the ASU Memorial Union:
• The three-pronged "pitchfork" is thicker with more jagged edges and a three-dimensional look.
• A temporarily reduced visibility of Sparky, the school's mascot since the late 1940s.
• Block lettering and design of "Arizona State" and "Sun Devils" on the uniforms and merchandising that's now copyrighted by the university where the lettering is now "Sun Devil bold."
• A new black football uniform featuring two new pitchforks on the helmet pointed outward, along with a small, black, "42" logo in the shape of a shield on the front of the jersey in honor of former Sun Devil legend Pat Tillman.
The back of the jersey features the player's name and/or number in gold that gradually turns into white at the bottom.
"When you're feeling that good about yourself before you hit the field, it's pretty scary and dangerous," said defensive back Omar Bolden, who could miss the 2011 season after suffering a torn ACL during spring practice. "It's weird and funny to say, but if you look good, you feel good and you play good."
The new uniforms will be worn by all the university's intercollegiate sports beginning this fall, and though Sparky will only be seen on the back of the football helmets, ASU Vice President of Athletics Lisa Love said the new logos are "absolutely not downplaying" Sparky and teased that another phase involving Sparky is coming in the future.
"As time goes on you'll see a counter to him," Love said. "He's the best mascot in the United States and there's no reason for Arizona State to put Sparky on the back-burner. He’ll very much be on the front burner.”
The new pitchfork and black color scheme appeared to draw the most attention as Sun Devil athletes from a variety of sports modeled their future uniforms.
“I like the changes,” women’s basketball player and former Marcos de Niza standout Joy Burke said. “It’s something different and there’s a little edge, a little more intimidating.”
Despite playing games in 100 degrees during August and September, neither Bolden nor offensive lineman Garth Gerhart offered any reservations of playing in the new color scheme.
Then again, the black uniforms will only come out of the closet occasionally and neither the student-athletes nor Love would divulge when.
“Diving into black was easy,” Love said. “That’s a color right there that really speaks to the generation of student-athletes competing now and will be recruiting in the future. The attitude it brings. ... They love it.”
Several of the players from the football, men’s and women’s basketball teams and softball teams on-hand to model the new uniforms were mindful, but not concerned about Sparky’s absence from some of the uniforms.
Other variations included a white-dominated color scheme with a maroon-printed “Sun Devils” in all capital letters across the front, while basketball uniforms featured a small, gold pitchfork on the bottom of the shorts.
While several of the Olympic sports teams on campus have achieved great success in recent years, the so-called “revenue” sports of football and men’s basketball have struggled for success and attendance the past two seasons.
An ASU spokesperson said the athletic department expects to eventually double the estimated $1 million in annual merchandise revenue, and that by early May the new logos will be available widespread. But how much the uniform and logo branding alterations will affect recruiting or on-field performance remains to be seen.
“The way ASU is now universally presented can only help us,” ASU men’s basketball coach Herb Sendek said.
For now, at least, the excitement was palpable in the players’ faces, words and reactions. Not to mention the crowd’s, as dozens of student-athletes seated near the front of the Ventana Ballroom echoed an “oohh” and “aahh” at what the athletic department said is the first of multiple steps toward marketing its future.
“It was too easy,” Bolden said. “You couldn’t mess this up. There was no way.”