History of the UCF Name, Logo and Mascot

New UCF Athletics Logos | Logo History | Mascot History | The Fighting Knights | Birth of Knightro

Part One: In the Beginning
Before the "Citronaut" graced the first student handbooks in 1969; prior to the time when the Student Government Association and school paper, the FuTUre, proposed "Vincent the Vulture" in 1970; way before "Puff" the Dragon and "Mack the Knight" set the stage for "Knightro"; and ahead of the day when the cast of the Medieval Times dinner theater performed a series of scenes during the football pre-game...there was the official Florida Technological University seal that represented the state's newest university established in rural East Orlando in October 1968. The story behind the creation of FTU's institutional seal started in 1966 when a local citizen, Winter Park's Major Forrest Shoup, sent a letter to Florida Governor Haydon Burns asking to take into consideration some thoughts he had as to the design of the school's seal. After the two traded their thoughts, the Board of Regents business manager, Philip Goree, was asked to respond by sending letters to all of the public and private state universities asking for sample copies of their institutional seals. more

Part Two: UCF Receives Knighthood
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". more

Part Three: The Horse and Rider Makes Its Debut
In 1970, FTU's athletics programs had a nickname; they were the "Knights". The students had a logo to rally behind, a democratically chosen design that appeased both the new athletics moniker in addition to the institutions' Greek-themed Pegasus. It was the 1970's and the start-up Knights were well on their way. After just one year at the club level, Torchy Clark's basketball squad was the first to gain varsity status gaining NCAA Division II recognition for the 1970-71, thus beginning what would be UCF Athletics' 38th anniversary in 2007-08. Clark's club went 17-9 in that first season and so was the start of his legendary career at the school. more

Part Four: Sir Wins-a-Lot, Puff the Dragon, Mack the Knight and the Medieval Times
What seemed to offset the authentic feel of the Horse and Rider tradition were the farcical character mascots that also made their debuts during the early 1980's. In time for the start of its second season of football, UCF decided to revamp the mascot both to motivate the crowd and draw attention to the fledgling football program. The first football mascot, dubbed "Sir Wins-a-lot", debuted at a 1980 football game knighted by President Trevor Colbourn. "Sir Wins-a-lot", a knight-themed mascot featuring a large smiling face made of plastic, was eventually retired a few seasons later in favor of just the Horse and Rider, which by the late 1980's had taken on the look of an authentic Knight in a costume donated by the widely-popular Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament in nearby west Orlando. Then there was the dragon-themed "Puff" or to several within the Knights Boosters organization as "Pete the Dragon". The boosters' version of the nickname was undoubtedly inspired by the Disney movie of nearly the same name, but primarily after UCF's notable Director of Athletics of the time, Bill Peterson, known as "Coach Pete" in the athletics community. more

Part Five: Hail to the Fighting Knights
UCF football began in 1979 playing at the NCAA Division III level. Regardless of the class, it had no reflection on how tough a brand of college football that UCF was playing. The men's basketball team was coming off an appearance in the NCAA Division II Final Four and was regarded as a pretty relentless group as well.Supporters of the athletics program for some time had likened the Knights' style of play to a team that could put up a strong fight anywhere or anytime. That the school's athletics swagger had also led to the era of the "Fighting Knights". References to the athletic program, from the pocket schedule cards to the annual media guides, were as the "Fighting Knights". UCF's official logo took a change during this time, too, displaying a round logo that featured a Knight atop a kicking horse, with the verbiage "Fighting Knights" running underneath. more

Part Six: The Knights Go Golden
In the September 15, 1993 issue of the Central Florida Future, the editorial staff made first reference of the UCF football team as the "Golden Knights". On that day, the school newspaper was writing about UCF's 35-30 season-opening win against Valdosta State on September 11 at the Citrus Bowl. Just a week prior, leading into the game, the paper was still referring to the team as the "Fighting Knights", a name it had known since the inaugural 1979 season. At the time, the "Golden" surname was seldom seen, having started without any fanfare a month prior through select press releases issued by the UCF Sports Information Office. The change to "Golden Knights" was ushered in under the new administration of Steve Sloan, the school's fourth full-time athletics director, hired by Dr. John Hitt, the school's fourth president, in 1993. Sloan, the former standout quarterback under Bear Bryant at Alabama, had built a highly-credible athletics career serving as a coach and administrator and came to UCF after working as the athletics director at the University of North Texas. more

Part Seven: The Birth of Knightro
In 1994, a committee was formed by the athletics department to explore and develop a new character mascot that would attend all UCF athletics events. A number of drawings were submitted, but Trey Gordon, a cheerleader and member of the Student Government Association was disappointed with the direction of the artwork. With present spirit program head coach Linda Gooch, Gordon and the SGA commissioned Metropolis Graphics of Orlando to sketch the character. more
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