April 19, 2007
Orlando, Fla. (www.UCFAthletics.com) -
The following story is part two in a series of eight short features detailing the history, legacy and folklore behind the making of the Florida Technological University (FTU) and University of Central Florida (UCF) name, logo and mascot. Accompanying each story on-line at UCFAthletics.com is a corresponding photo gallery displaying historical images from each era of UCF Knights athletics.
It may have had something to do with the era, but the conflict that grew out of the "Citronaut" would end up altering UCF Athletics greatly, with an impact that, appropriately, is still felt today.
When the Citronaut was unveiled on the cover of the 1969 student handbook, it came with large disapproval from its target student audience. The mascot looked like a cross between an orange and a character out of The Jetsons, a popular cartoon of the time. Either way, the students weren't having any of it.
Norman Van Meter, one of the designers of the university's official seal, created the Citronaut, an orange with the head of an astronaut. It had actually lasted for the entire school year before the students petitioned Student Government to finally establish an "official" mascot.
The student-ran newspaper, FuTUre, led the student cause, compiling many suggestions from its body. The students' counter to the Citronaut was proposed by a night nurse at the campus health center, Judy Hines, whose husband Gene drew "Vincent the Vulture".
The first rendering looked ominous and mean, but later drawings portrayed a friendly, even comical bird character. Besides, the students claimed the drawing was clean, environmentally beneficial, with both the right attitude and coloring.
Vincent was black and gold, corresponding with the school's colors, and opponents would be impressed with its aggressive nature. It had been inspired by the ever-present vultures that circled the campus' newly cleared land from where a pine forest had stood.
A determined contingent supposedly supported Vincent so earnestly, aggravating administrators that the "Citronaut/Vincent the Vulture" conflict would last yet another year. A three-dimensional version lived for many years in the Student Services Commons in the office of longtime director Jimmy Ferrell before he passed away in 1999.
The story continues in the summer of 1970 as students approached Dr. Millican to offer suggestions on the much-maligned mascot crisis. "Operation Mascot" soon commenced and was aided by suggestion boxes located throughout campus.
A committee comprised of students, staff, and faculty members would go over as many as 80 submissions (though by some accounts there were more than 200). The committee narrowed the selection down to the Chargers, Sun Devils, Thunderbolts, the Golden Paladins and the Knights of Pegasus, which had an obvious tie to the University seal.
The "Knights of Pegasus" or "Knights", as the teams were subsequently called, received 824 of the 1,313 student votes with the Golden Paladins a distant second.
So after a two-year search for a mascot to represent the school, the logo, designed by student Charles Woodling, was finally unveiled on Dec. 4, 1970 during a basketball game against Patrick Air Force Base.
A profile of a knight's head with a helmet was designed by FTU employee and graphic artist Dorothy Cannon, who "aligned the school's athletics mascot with the university's seal, which prominently features a Pegasus, the winged horse of Greek mythology".