ST. GEORGE — The results of Dixie State University’s identity survey are in and the institution has narrowed the search for the new nickname and athletic mascot to three finalists.
In no particular order, the Sun Warriors, Raptors and Blazers received the highest rankings from the nearly 4,700 Dixie State fans and community members who participated in the online survey.
In addition to ranking the final six mascot concepts, the university’s Identity Committee reviewed all additional comments and suggestions.
“The committee pored over ten years of research to compile the final six identities, and the data overwhelming called for an identity linked to the sun, our pioneer heritage or a strong desert animal,” Jyl Hall, Dixie State’s public relations director, said. “The three finalists were a perfect representation of what students, alumni and the community suggested.”
The Sun Warriors, representing the source of power the sun emits, was selected as a finalist for its connection to St. George and its 300 days of annual sunshine. The mascot for this identity, Apollo, the Greek god tasked with ushering in the sun each day, was also responsible for nourishing the creation of music, art and poetry, fostering the progression of medicine and health and holding keys to the truth — ideals that encompass many of Dixie’s institutional goals and values.
Additionally, Apollo would make for a fierce athletic mascot that Dixie’s opponents would be hesitant to challenge.
The Raptor identity — based on the Utahraptor, one of the fiercest dinosaurs to ever walk the Earth — represents the strength of both Dixie’s athletic teams and student body. Discovered in Southern Utah, this fierce beast has strong ties to the region and its geography. Considering no colleges or universities in the U.S. have adopted the raptor as a mascot, the identity is both fitting and unique.
DSU was founded by pioneers, and the institution was saved multiple times by its community. The Blazer identity represents Dixie’s pioneer heritage and spirit. As the original trailblazers of the West, the bison serve as the perfect mascot for the Blazer nickname. The trails blazed by the bison were adopted by American Indians and pioneers to serve as hunting and warrior paths and assisted with the migration out west.
Similarly, DSU students and alumni continue to blaze trails in a variety of disciplines and industries around the globe. Based on feedback from the survey, the committee is considering revising Blazers to Trailblazers.
The Identity Committee, made up of individuals representing DSU’s alumni, students, athletics, faculty, staff, administration and community, is diving even deeper into each mascot idea in order to find the best identity for DSU. Love Communications, an advertising and communications agency that has been working with the committee throughout the entire rebranding process, will create imagery, logos and branding for each of the three finalists.
The committee will review the logos and assess how each identity would be employed with Dixie events, traditions, clubs, teams and other factors. It is also important that the mascot relates to DSU’s history, mission and surrounding geography where possible. After reviewing the logos and other considerations, the committee will select the replacement for the current institutional nickname and athletic mascot, Red Storm and Big “D” the Bull.
Roughly 12 percent of survey participants requested a return to Dixie’s Rebel identity. The committee recognizes the passion and history surrounding this nickname and acknowledges that many alumni rightly associate their time at Dixie with Rebels.
While the committee understands there is nothing inherently wrong with the nickname Rebels, the Dixie State Rebel identity was closely tied to the slave-owning Confederate South due to the prevalent usage of Confederate flags and symbolism and the practice of Confederate-style traditions. The committee aims to create an identity that is positive, welcoming and representative of the university’s goals and values.
Additionally, Dixie State University will remain the formal name of the institution. When Dixie State became a university Feb. 16, 2013, House Bill 61 was signed into law, naming the institution Dixie State University. The name must remain in accordance with state statute.
Taking all the criteria into consideration, the Identity Committee will select one of the three finalists as the new athletic identity of DSU. The new mascot and brand are set to be revealed in spring 2016.