Hannah Heisler | Senior Staff Photographer
The big reveal of Pitt Athletics’ uniform style for the 2019-20 season and beyond at this year’s Bigelow Bash had been hyped up for even longer than T-Pain’s appearance as the headliner. After long teasing a switch to “retro” uniforms that call back to the 1970s, Pitt confirmed fans’ suspicions Sunday with an unveiling of the new royal blue and yellow uniforms.
Pitt athletic director Heather Lyke drew cheers from the thousands of students standing in Bigelow Boulevard for the Pitt Program Council-hosted event when she appeared onstage to introduce the reveal.
Lyke knew Pitt students sometimes struggle with knowing what colors to wear on game day, she said. But the plan is for the new colors to unite Panthers fans for years to come.
“Trust me, from here forward you’re never going to have to look at Instagram or Twitter or anything else to know what we’re wearing,” Lyke said. “We’re going to wear these colors for a very long time.”
Pitt partnered with Nike’s Graphic Identity Group to design new uniforms across all sports. Along with the blue and yellow, the new uniforms feature “Pitt” in the classic script, an “H2P” and a snarling new secondary logo of a panther’s head, inspired by the panther fountain at the front of the Cathedral of Learning. Players from Pitt’s varsity sports teams, along with members of the varsity cheerleading squad and dance team, modeled the uniforms in a fashion show following Lyke’s short speech.
The display also showed off the set of fan gear based on the redesign. After the fashion show, many fans followed Lyke down the block to a short ribbon-cutting ceremony at the newly renovated The Pitt Shop on Forbes Avenue, now stocked with a full collection of merchandise based on the new look.
Pitt players wore royal blue and mustard yellow uniforms from 1973 until 1997, when the colors were replaced by the navy blue and champagne gold that players have worn ever since. The same year, a roaring Panther took the place of the script “Pitt” on the uniforms. But in 2015, the retro coloring and script made a comeback on Pitt Athletics’ alternative uniforms, prompting discussion of whether Pitt would, and should, bring it back for good.
Several weeks before the unveiling, Lyke said the new uniforms would create a “strong and unified visual identity.”
“Our branding will pay homage to a proud past but with 21st century ambitions,” she said in a March press release announcing the reveal. “It evokes our legends while anticipating future greatness.”
Among other new options at The Pitt Shop, fans can find a royal blue baseball cap or T-shirt sporting the new panther logo for $30 or $32, respectively. Three Pitt first-years — Avani Mathur, Devesh Malik and Milan Patel — stood by a rack of shirts shortly after the shop opened, debating whether or not the gear was nice enough to be worth the price.
“I think the prices are a little high, because it’s Nike,” Malik, a biology major, said. Trying to decide whether or not to buy a long-sleeved tee, he was cautious in his praise of the new color scheme. “I like it, but the gold is a little too yellow. If you look at UCLA’s colors, they’re identical.”
Mathur, another biology major, said she liked the new colors better, especially the blue.
“It pops out so much more,” she said.
Reception to the redesign was mixed on social media. Some praised the new style, but others were more critical.
“Feeling SO GOOD about Pitt Athletics right now,” Pitt alumna Noreen Doloughty wrote. “I grew up on the royal blue and gold and then had to look at that awful navy and creamy olive whatever the yuck for so long.”
Feeling SO GOOD about Pitt Athletics right now. I grew up on the royal blue and gold and then had to look at that awful navy and creamy olive whatever the yuck for so long. That 90s Panther? Bad design was all the range once vector graphics software became the thing.
— Noreen Doloughty (@NDoloughty) April 7, 2019
“Whoever designed @Pitt_ATHLETICS new uniforms needs fired,” Matt Speck, a junior marketing major, tweeted. “They just missed a wide open layup.”
Whoever designed @Pitt_ATHLETICS new uniforms needs fired. They just missed a wide open layup with those uniforms they revealed 🚮
— Matt Speck (@The_Speck24) April 8, 2019
In a press conference following the ribbon-cutting, Pitt football head coach Pat Narduzzi said he thought the new colors, and the new panther logo in particular, would help attract new recruits to Pitt athletics, and that they would bring Pitt fans and players closer together.
“That panther right there is the biggest thing I look at. Pitt needed that, we needed that secondary logo,” Narduzzi said, gesturing to the snarling panther on his royal blue cap. “It is nice to have that identity of who we are. This is the look.”