The long-awaited rebrand of Pitt’s official colors is now finally set in stone.
On Sunday, Pitt announced its 19 athletic programs will now permanently wear the university’s traditional royal blue and yellow color scheme; replacing the former navy and gold combination that had been in place since 1997. In addition, the school released an official secondary logo featuring a Panther head that will accompany the school’s primary Pitt script logo.
The Reveal festivities headlined Pitt’s annual Bigelow Bash in front of the Cathedral of Learning on Sunday, highlighted by a fashion show with student athlete representatives from each program showing off their respective new uniforms. Afterward, Pitt athletic director Heather Lyke led a formal ribbon-cutting ceremony in front of the school’s new Nike Pitt Shop.
Although fans have been calling for the switch for quite awhile, the inspiration behind the school’s decision had been two years making, stemming from Lyke’s first trip to the annual Atlantic Coast Conference meetings.
“I was sitting in between (representatives) from Notre Dame and Georgia Tech,” she said. “I looked at our name tags and they were pretty much interchangeable because our colors were so identical. I really thought, ‘How are we going be unique? How are we going to stand out in the ACC? How are we going to distinguish ourselves from a look standpoint and then obviously from a competitive standpoint?'”
From there, the athletic program reached out to Nike to conduct a global identity study of its brand to identify the most appealing option to recruits, fans and students coupled with what would sell from a marketplace standpoint. And, unsurprisingly, the color alteration was recommended.
“It’s essential and it’s critical to who we are,” said Lyke. “I think there’s a sense of pride to these colors. The kids want to wear retros for big games because it matters how you look. If you look good, you play good. So, there’s something to that. I also thought that it unifies our campus. It unifies our alumni base. It unifies the students. It’s what people like.
“Our goal was to create an identity that would stand the test of time, and we believe that we’ve done that.”
The alteration marks yet another swift move by Lyke during her 25-month tenure in Oakland that began in March 2017. Since her hiring, she’s appointed eight new head coaches across the athletic department’s 19 teams, with notable leadership changes to both the men’s and women’s basketball programs. She also rewarded Pat Narduzzi with a new seven-year contract in that will run through the 2024 season.
Following through with a return to royal and yellow, however, is perhaps Lyke’s most impactful move to date.
“The one thing I told her was that ‘Hey, this is your legacy. This Panther. …You created this,” said Narduzzi on Sunday. “I think this is going to stay forever, and it’ll be Heather Lyke’s legacy that got this thing done right now in 2019.”