ASU NEWS RELEASE
The wait is over. Today at 11 a.m. on the east side of the Student Union, a roll-out ceremony for Arkansas State University’s newly adopted mascot, the Red Wolves, revealed the new face of ASU athletics.
The decision to bid farewell to ASU’s Indians and Indian Family was not an easy one, but it was a collaborative decision at every level. The decision-making process was begun about a year ago in response to NCAA sanctions.
At the urging of administrators, notably ASU Chancellor Dr. Robert L. Potts, a Mascot Selection Steering Committee was appointed and charged with gathering ideas for a mascot change from an extremely broad-based constituency that included current students, alumni, representatives from student athletics, athletic administration representation, and members of the community. Jim Pickens, emeritus trustee, was appointed committee chair to oversee the process and keep it representative of all constituencies.
Pickens remarked, “It was a pleasure playing a small role in the future of our university, and all concerned played a significant part in helping our institution move forward. On behalf of the Mascot Selection Committee, we wish to thank the administration, Board of Trustees, and various constituencies for the trust, confidence, and support we received as we went about this historic process of selecting a new mascot and mark for our university. I commend the Mascot Selection Committee for their dedication, professionalism, and hard work as we attempted to select a new mascot that is in keeping with the highest standards of our great university. Hopefully, the new mascot and imagery will serve to broaden and unify our base as together we strive for continued excellence in all aspects of our students' experience at Arkansas State University. I’m thankful for the opportunity to participate in what I hope is a great new beginning for A-State.”
As Chancellor Potts noted at the historic Friday, March 7 ASU Board of Trustees meeting, “on Jan. 30, the Mascot Selection Steering Committee concluded its work by recommending that ASU adopt Wolves or a variation thereof, such as Red Wolves, as the new mascot and nickname for our athletic team.” After ascertaining that the nickname “Red Wolves” was unique among four-year universities, Potts brought it before the trustees, who ratified his selection. Potts remarked, “The Red Wolf is a noble species of wolf that once inhabited Arkansas and still exists in small numbers in other states. They are vicious and very aggressive, and they run in packs. I believe that Red Wolves is the best choice…”
ASU Board of Trustees chair Mike Gibson addressed the Mascot Selection Steering Committee’s work at the historic board meeting marking the ratification of the adoption of Red Wolves as the new mascot. Gibson noted of the committee’s recommendation to the chancellor, “It was done with class; it was done well, it was a tough job done well. On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I want to thank Jim Pickens, who agreed to serve as chairman of this committee and did a wonderful job, Dr. Robert L. Potts, chancellor of the Jonesboro campus who worked so hard to bring us to this point and to those committee members who were there and offered their input…they all loved ASU…everybody wanted the best, and I feel like…you have come up with the best selection that anybody could find.” Shortly after these comments, and as the meeting broke up, Gibson led the assembled company of ASU administrators and their legal counsel, board members, and members of the media, in a rousing wolf howl, in a satisfactory conclusion of the laborious process.
Gibson and the assembled company weren’t the only ones howling with joy. Kim Wheeler, executive director of the Red Wolf Coalition, a nonprofit conservation group based in eastern North Carolina, wrote the following message to Chancellor Potts.
Wheeler wrote, “The Red Wolf Coalition, Inc., and the many supporters of red wolf conservation are thrilled and send their “howling” congratulations to ASU on your choice of the red wolf as your mascot. I have passed along your mascot announcement to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Red Wolf Recovery Program and to the captive management facilities across the United States with great enthusiasm. We consider our red wolf supporters and captive management facilities to be one big family, and we welcome the students, staff, and alumni of Arkansas State University to the family.”
Wheeler “can’t wait” to see the imagery, either, but she won’t have to wait much longer. The team from ASU's Publications and creative Services department is ready to roll out the imagery that they created in-house for the new visage of ASU.
According to Ron Looney, director, Department of Publications and Creative Services, all four of the department’s staff artists collaborated in the creation of the Red Wolves imagery. Initial sketches of the wolf mascot were created by art director Mark Reeves and designer Mary Williams. Graphic designer Heath Kelly developed a unique lettering style, and staff artist Michael Johnson assisted with conceptual suggestions and digital manipulation of the art forms. The staff then combined their efforts to create the versions necessary for production of various types of university media. The Publications and Creative Services team look upon the project as entirely collaborative, and as a great experience for them all.
ASU will promote that ASU-generated Red Wolves imagery, according to Gleen Hart, assistant athletic director for marketing and promotions, in many ways. Hart says, “We will try to be as visible as possible with the new imagery being displayed via billboards, the student body, print material, commercials, newspaper ads, and merchandising. The new imagery will be a vital part of the new student group. We will continue to provide prizes, promotions, and incentives to increase student involvement in athletic-related activities.”
Doug Doggett, associate athletic director for external operations and Indian Club director, says that the name change, even for his own organization, “obviously represents a significant impact on the athletic program and the university. We will continue to give thorough consideration to the switch from Indian names and imagery to Red Wolves throughout the process.”
ASU’s athletic teams will begin competing as Red Wolves next fall at the beginning of the academic year.