Sunday marked the end of an era for Pitt and its athletic department, as the last reminders of former Pitt athletic director Steve Pederson’s changes to the school’s branding — the navy and vegas colors — were stripped away. In their place, new royal blue and university gold uniforms were unveiled before a crowd at Pitt’s annual Bigelow Bash celebration, as were secondary branding marks and logos intended to complement the Pitt script.
The event — which included a fashion show and Nike shop opening — was the final step in a multiyear process, as Pitt has been distancing itself from Pederson’s rebranding efforts for a significant portion of the past decade. That change was most notable in the uniforms of the Pitt football team, which was at the vanguard of the movement to readopt the Pitt script and began progressing toward this point back in 2014 — the same year Pederson's second term as Pitt's athletic director came to an end.
The team shifted from block logo helmets to Pitt script helmets that year but kept the block font jerseys. However, the Panthers then began donning a new font inspired by the archways of the Cathedral of Learning. That was unveiled in the school’s last big uniform reveal on May 2016, which was billed as “the return of the Pitt script” at the Petersen Events Center unveiling. And since then, all of Pitt’s teams have adopted throwback uniforms as alternates.
One issue addressed by the new branding is Pitt’s numerical font, which was not uniform across all teams until Sunday. The football and basketball teams had been wearing throwbacks with block numbers, while the non-revenue teams went with a futuristic font that somewhat negated the retro theme established by the colors. Now, all uniforms bearing numbers feature a more rounded font inspired by the Cathedral of Learning’s arches.
However, perhaps the most notable addition to Pitt’s set of branding marks is the panther head logo, which was inspired in part by the panther fountainhead outside the Cathedral of Learning and in part by the statues around campus, per the Pitt ID Manual released on Sunday.
"The panther head logo is a culmination of the beloved panther statues spread across the campus. That sculptural aesthetic and aggressiveness has been captured in this new mark. However, there are design cues that visually connect to the arched motif of the Cathedral of Learning. The forward-facing angle is a nod to the panther fountain at the front entrance of that building."
In some cases, the panther head has been incorporated much like the old panther tooth logo, as it adorns the bottom of the neckline in the football jerseys. Similarly, it is only used on the waistline of the women’s basketball team’s shorts. But it is more prominently featured on the men’s basketball team’s shorts, as it covers part of the left thigh. It also figures significantly into Pitt’s blue wrestling singlets.
Other additions to Pitt’s branding include a script version of the Panthers name, Cathedral-inspired stripes on the sides of uniforms, and the incorporation of "H2P" and "412" into Pitt designs, all of which can be seen in the video released by Pitt outlining all the changes.
One key distinction between the change witnessed on Sunday and the incremental deviations of the past is the alleged permanence of this move. This time, Pitt will not be keeping its navy and vegas digs as throwback or alternate uniforms to be used on special occasions. Pitt athletic director Heather Lyke, the chief architect behind the branding overhaul, told reporters.
”No,” she said. "They're done."