If you've been to a University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women's basketball game at McKenzie Arena this season, you may have noticed that you don't see or hear "Lady Mocs" like you have in years past.
The same will happen for all of UTC's women's sports as the athletic department moves toward unifying its brand as the Chattanooga Mocs.
"Most people, nationally, have gone more toward like we've moved toward a little bit, of just designating men or women, and we're all the same mascot," athletic director David Blackburn said. "We're all Mocs."
While the use of "Lady" for women's sports may be on the decline in Division I athletics, especially at major-conference schools, at Tennessee the "Lady Vols" brand has been a strong one for decades. The difference there, said Blackburn, who spent more than 20 years working at UT, is Tennessee has had separate athletic departments.
"They had a men's department and a women's department, and they were clearly two separate departments," Blackburn said. "That was the reason they were so adamant about having a nomenclature like that."
UTC began heading this direction several years ago when it started using the "power C" as its primary logo, replacing the cow-catcher logo that could have Mocs or Lady Mocs on it. More and more in the past year, UTC has put "Chattanooga" front and center when possible, as well.
"From the branding side of it, the consistency of the message that we're all Chattanooga Mocs, and internally hitting that home, is important," said Andrew Horton, senior associate athletic director for development and sales. "Not that Lady Mocs is wrong by any means. Call us what you want out in public, but in terms of what we're going to focus on, we're all Chattanooga Mocs."
UTC women's golf coach Colette Murray has been adamant since she was hired in 2006, that her players are Mocs, not Lady Mocs. She said she never saw the need for a different designation for women's sports.
"We're just the Chattanooga Mocs, no different from any of the men's teams," she said. "When I was in college [at Jacksonville State], we were all just Gamecocks. We weren't the Lady Gamecocks or anything like that."
As UTC tries to raise its profile in Division I, branding is important. Blackburn said he loves seeing the "power C" logo on television, as well as "Chattanooga" on jerseys or the Moc bird head logo that the women's golf team wears on its caps and visors.
"The biggest issue is the logo," he said. "I want us, certainly, to be one brand and one logo, with the secondary mark being the aggressive-looking Moc head. I'm not too concerned if we say Lady Mocs, but I do think it's important to have one brand.
"You split your brand is what happens if you're not careful and you can wind up with two different identities. We'd rather have one."
Contact John Frierson at email@example.com or 423-757-6268. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/MocsBeat.
John Frierson is in his seventh year at the Times Free Press and seventh year covering University of Tennessee at Chattanooga athletics. The bulk of his time is spent covering Mocs football, but he also writes about women’s basketball and the big-picture issues and news involving the athletic department. A native of Athens, Ga., John grew up a few hundred yards from the University of Georgia campus. Instead of becoming a Bulldog he attended Ole ...
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