Living on a residential campus, we are all surrounded by the echoes of one word: Paladins. From game day advertisements to tailgates at Pearce-Horton Football Complex, we are constantly exposed to the image of a knight on his horse. Until recently, I knew little about the history of a paladin’s association with Furman. This article sheds light on the Furman athletics mascot, nicknames and logo.
Mascot and Nicknames
“Furman University’s athletic mascot is that knight on a horse, and the school’s intercollegiate athletic teams are nicknamed ‘Paladins.” Furman now portrays this noble figure of a grand seigneur in the most winsome, endearing way. The costume is far from that of a grand seigneur but rather resembles some teen’s imagination of a paladin figure if it ever existed in Star Wars. This version, however, was not always the case. Until Dec. 2014, Dave Hanson would put on a medieval paladin costume and thunder out on his white glamorous horse, Fury, at the beginning of every home football game, leading the team onto the field. Now, spectators at Paladin games might see both forms of the Paladin knight at a game.
The Paladins is now an umbrella nickname for all Furman Athletics teams. Prior to 1961, the baseball team was known as the “Hornets,” the football team “Hurricane,” and the basketball team “Paladins.” The nickname Paladin was coined by a Greenville-based sportswriter in the 1930s to describe Furman’s basketball team. Furman’s student body then elected the Paladin as the university mascot for its all intercollegiate athletic teams in 1961.
The American Heritage College Dictionary defines a paladin as a “paragon of chivalry; a heroic champion; a strong supporter or defender of a cause; and any of the 12 peers of French emperor Charlemagne’s court.”
Furman’s school colors can be traced back to the early 1980s, when it was officially decided at an alumni meeting, that royal purple and white would serve as school colors. Since then, Furman football teams have been dubbed the Purple Fighters, Purple Hurricanes, and most recently, Paladins.
Furman’s athletics program is represented by the diamond “F” logo which originally appeared on the school’s football helmets in 1973. The diamond F, designed for $25 by then-Furman junior art major Dennis Zeiger, has been copied by numerous high school football teams in the Southeast over the last decades with the help of former Furman players now in the coaching ranks.