After a rebranding process with Nike that took 18 months, the athletic teams of the United States Military Academy will be called Army West Point and don new logos, uniforms and colors, the school announced late Monday.
Academy officials said the decision to emphasize the connection between Army and West Point evolved during the process, which included talking to alumni, athletes, and administrators. It also eliminates confusion among the general public about the name of the team at the prestigious military academy.
"To separate the Army from West Point is to take away the purpose of the United States Military Academy," Lt. Gen. Robert Caslen, Jr., superintendent of the school, said in a statement. "This innovative new branding respects and elevates the academy's history and heritage and reflects the unique qualities of Army West Point Athletics, while tying the service to the academy."
The academy will continue to use Black Knights as a nickname. The athletic department officially changed the nickname to Black Knights from the previous moniker, Cadets, in 1999. Both had been used for decades.
All 28 of the school's sports teams also will have a new logo, the "Athena Shield," that has similarities to Michigan State's logo.
The logo features Athena's helmet to embody the scholar portion of the academy, a sword to represent the battle-ready warrior, and also has a star on a shield background similar to the school's crest with traditional gold and black colors. It replaces Capeman, a likeness of a caped soldier wielding a sword with the blade across the top of an A.
Immediate buzz from fans and alumni was mixed.
"I like it," Sue Filburn, a 1991 graduate of West Point, said. "It kind of brings in old tradition but makes it look new. The font I like because it looks "tough," plus I like how it links Army and West Point."
"They look pretty sharp. I guess it'll look nice," added Filburn's husband, Troy, also an alum. "But the team's got to get better. That's all old grads care about."
Responses on the Facebook page of the Army Times trended negatively: "New logo won't help you beat Navy," wrote one person. The Middies have won the last 13 games between the schools.
Navy also had some fun with its rival's rebranding effort on Twitter: "To recap, this is what Army is going by: Army West Point Black Knights Cadets The Corps."
The new brand was unveiled on campus at Eisenhower Hall in front of the Corps of Cadets, complete with a fashion show. It will eventually be used by all academy teams, starting with football.
The new football uniforms have the option to go with solid black or white shirts and pants. The new logo falls in the neckline of the jersey and on the hip of the pant, an American flag is on one sleeve and Army emblems on the other, gold trim accents the black look, and black and gold trim highlights the white option.
Nike released visuals of both a gold and white helmet, both with a single black stripe down the middle and the logo and phrase West Point on the back.
Athletic director Boo Corrigan said a quote from famed West Point graduate Gen. Douglas MacArthur served as inspiration for the design: "Reach into the future, yet never neglect the past."
"It was very important to us that this process was collaborative," said Corrigan, who secured a new apparel agreement with Nike after taking over as athletic director at West Point in 2011. "We believe that we achieved our goal."
School officials declined to reveal the cost of the rebranding.