Marcus Paige’s game-winning layup against Louisville was voted Most Outstanding Play. The North Carolina men’s lacrosse team’s win over No. 1 Denver was voted Best Upset. And women’s tennis was awarded Most Outstanding Team for its championship performances.
But the biggest news from Monday night’s Rammy Awards in Carmichael Arena, though, was UNC’s unveiling of changes to its uniforms: a unified design for all 28 varsity sports, including more argyle; consistent fonts, logos and colors; and a slightly refined interlocking ‘NC.’
Eighteen months ago, the aesthetic revolution began when North Carolina and Nike met to discuss changes to UNC’s athletic identity, a complimentary part of the University’s contract with the athletic apparel giant.
Todd Van Horne, vice president and creative director for Nike football and basketball, presented the rebranded uniforms at the annual award show.
He said during the design process, Nike polled current athletes and built a design around their perception of UNC’s image.
“The main goal was to build on our tradition and then come up with something that is exciting for recruits and current student-athletes, and then gain some consistency,” said Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham.
Van Horne said one of North Carolina’s most identifiable branding asset are its colors: Carolina Blue and white.
The colors were first adopted in 1795, when the Dialectic (blue) and Philanthropic (white) Societies decided on their respective colors. In the 1890s, when football gained traction at the University, the team implemented the debate team’s colors, and blue and white became the official shades of the Tar Heels.
The NC logo, which dates back to the 1800s, has appeared in slightly varied forms throughout different UNC uniforms.
Following the rebranding, both will be consistent for uniforms across the board.
“It shows that we’re one,” said redshirt senior sprinter Devon Carter, one of the student representatives during the rebranding process.
“It shows that we’re an actual university that’s close-knit.”
Nike and UNC made subtle refinements to the logo in order to balance it in size, scale and shape.
Alexander Julian, who designed the argyle that the basketball adopted in 1991, said it was a dream come true for him when Nike and UNC decided to apply argyle to other sports.
“Coach Smith liked it, Michael Jordan loved it, and that became a revolutionary idea for a basketball uniform,” Julian said.
And the athletes who’ll be wearing them are excited about the switch.
“You look good, you play good,” said wide receiver Ryan Switzer, who modeled the new uniforms on stage at the Rammys while taking a selfie video. “I like to look good out there, so the new jerseys are nice and they’ll get some attention.”
His teammate agreed.
“I feel like if you look good, you play good,” quarterback Marquise Williams said in a separate interview minutes earlier. “You’ve got to have some swagger. We’re going to have some swagger next year with those uniforms.”