How SU banned club sports from using its iconic logo – then changed their minds

SU club teams can use logo on social media, apparel

Together, Syracuse University's club teams fought to keep the school's logo on social media and apparel.
Published: October 1, 2021 | Updated: October 4th, 2021 at 11:24 pm
Syracuse Club Baseball player
Syracuse Club Baseball, Club Hockey and other on-campus club sports teams were told by the University on Sept. 21 they could no longer use the school's "S" logo on merchandise and apparel.

It has been an eventful ten days for club sports teams at Syracuse University. After many groups were unable to compete last year due to COVID-19, things began to feel normal again as fall schedules started.

That was until the University hit club teams with an out-of-the-blue message from SU’s trademark office. The email stated that club sports could no longer use the primary “S” logo on any social media, advertisements, or team merchandise. Under the University’s new rules, they would only be allowed to keep it on team uniforms.

Men’s Club Hockey team President Mackenzie Murphy said their group was the first to receive the message on Sept. 21. No other clubs reported receiving the email at that time. Murphy said the announcement came as a surprise to him because it was not discussed at the initial club sports meeting in August.

“The biggest disappointment (to us) is that we’ve been told nothing as to why the decision was made,” Murphy said.

At the time, the team was displaying the “S” logo as part of their profile picture on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok. Since club sports receive very little funding from the University, they typically rely on social media advertising and selling merchandise to break even.

It wasn’t until a full week later that a follow-up mass email was sent to all sports clubs. Club Baseball President Connor Burke said people are annoyed by SU’s poor communication on the issue.

“The email (that we got this Tuesday) called it ‘just a reminder’ when we hadn’t received anything from the University before,” Burke said.

By this point, the hockey team had already removed the logo from all social media and tried to make the best of the situation:

The team ran a poll for a “joke” logo to use temporarily and tried to make a permanent one that they later scrapped because of mixed feedback. Other club teams, such as women’s lacrosse, unveiled their own new logos as well.

But that wasn’t going to happen for the baseball squad. They still demanded to know exactly why club sports were not allowed to wear the symbol of their University. Shortly after the order to take down logos on social media, they released this statement on Twitter:

Burke said he had no idea that the tweet would take off as it did. He is grateful for the overwhelming support from the SU community and beyond. The tweet garnered so much support (500+ likes and 100+ retweets) that two days later, SU revised the new guidelines.

Whether clubs will be able to resume using the “S” on merchandise is still up in the air. But they officially have the all-clear to put it back on social media.

“Based on feedback we have received in recent days, we have made the decision to allow our sport clubs to use our marks beyond uniforms to include areas such as club-managed websites and social media accounts,” SU spokesperson Sarah Scalese said. “We will be working with our sport club leaders in the coming days to define appropriate use.

If there’s one positive to come out of this situation, it’s how clubs and the campus as a whole came together to support one another.

“I’m really excited with the decision to keep letting us use the block ‘S’ and other Syracuse logos,” Burke said. “Initially, I thought we were fighting a losing battle, but club sports really banded together and got some work done.”

Though they don’t bring thousands of fans into the Dome, club athletes are still that: athletes.

But more importantly, they are students. Students that want to wear the “S” and display it everywhere they can. Students who are proud to call Syracuse their home.

“The fight doesn’t seem like it’s done yet,” Burke said. “We’d still like an explanation on the decision and further explanation of guidelines. Overall, we are very proud of what we’ve accomplished.”