MARTIN, Tenn. – The University of Tennessee at Martin celebrated 25 years of being the Skyhawks on April 25. The logo and caricature were originally introduced to UT Martin in 1995, says University officials.
UT Martin is the only Division I university represented by a Skyhawk. While a Skyhawk is a mythical creature, it was inspired by the university and West Tennessee's history, according to a university press release.
The Skyhawk derives part of its name from "sky pilots," which was the nickname of the athletic teams at Hall-Moody institute, the first educational institution on the site of the present university before UT Junior College was established in 1927. "Sky pilot" was a term in the 1900s for a traveling preacher, reported University Relations.
According to the release, the Skyhawk was fashioned as a Red-tailed hawk indigenous to West Tennessee, but also as the World War II pilots who were trained at the UT Junior College.
Officials report that pilots received flight training in the 1940s at Gill-Dove Field, which is now Martin Recreational Complex. The goggles are a dedication to the pilots who served during the war.
The University has had three mascots since the university became the University of Tennessee at Martin in 1967: The Pacers, Pacer Pete and Pace-Her Polly and then Captain Skyhawk.
The re-brand began in 1994 with the hiring of Benny Hollis, the first athletics director for both men's and women's programs, who wanted a gender-neutral, marketable mascot that could easily be associated with UT Martin.
In 1995, the Skyhawk mascot's first public appearance occurred during a football game. Students and faculty voted to call the mascot "Captain."
In 2019, UT Martin Chancellor Keith Carver appointed a university committee to expand the enthusiasm and recognition of the Skyhawk brand.
Intercollegiate athletics announced the first of two new alternative logos in January, which were voted on by students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members during the 2019 fall semester. The university reports almost 4,000 people voted on the decision and alternate and competitive marks were chosen. "This marks the 25th year since the Skyhawk name and logo were introduced, and the timing is right to add an alternate mark to the logo family," UT Martin Chancellor Keith Carver said when the first new mark was unveiled in January.
The alternative and competitive marks will not replace the traditional logo, but offer another option for the UT Martin Athletics logo package, the university says. The logos were designed by Finn Partners, a full-service advertising, marketing and public relations agency in Nashville who are known for their Nashville Predators and Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders logos.
The original Skyhawk logo was designed by Dye Van Mol and Lawrence, now DVL Seigenthaler, which is the Nashville office of Finn Partners.
The new logos will be available on licensed merchandise this fall.
Information from the University Relations release was taken from the book, The University of Tennessee at Martin: The First One Hundred Years, by Bob Carroll, Assistant Professor Emeritus of History and member of the UT Martin Athletics Hall of Fame.