The University of Idaho’s athletic teams are going back to an old-school look, but it sure feels fresh.
Three of the school’s programs unveiled new Nike uniforms Wednesday, evoking memories of the Big Sky days of yore. In accordance with a recent school-wide rebrand, UI has ditched the old “Vegas Gold” for a brighter, “Pride Gold” — which was donned by Vandals until 1996.
The football team broke out a white uniform with silver-and-gold striped shoulders and numbers that pop, coupled with refurbished, repainted helmets that glimmer. The men’s basketball program revealed a black set with Pride Gold trim, and the women will sport a similar, white kit.
“I think the new gold livens everything up,” said Anthony Castro, a school alumnus and UI’s director of equipment operations, licensing and branding. “The Vegas Gold was OK, but it didn’t contrast enough with the silver. It allows us to utilize both of our colors more than in the past.”
The school’s classic “I” logo replaces the name plates on the backs of the jerseys.
“It’s unique, and we’re the only Vandal mascot in the country, so if we can get the flagship logo out there, I think we can make more people nationwide aware,” Castro said.
The teams don’t yet have full Pride Gold fits because uniform supplying is on a cycle at UI.
The football team will continue to wear the black uniforms it has for the past two years; men’s hoops will have the same white away jerseys, and the women will stick with the black attire they’re accustomed to.
Soccer made the move to Pride Gold in 2019, and Castro said volleyball’s new look is coming soon.
“Hopefully we have the majority of sports completely converted over by the fall of 2021,” he said. “We’re trying to be smart with our funding and budget as much as we can, so we’ve slowly integrated uniforms. It’s a process, but we’re almost there.”
Castro and Co. had a handful of different Nike styles to tinker with, heeding advice on the logos from Marty Northcroft, the Vandals’ head of marketing. Castro did the brunt of the designing, but also involved some upperclassmen student-athletes, team captains and coaches in the process.
“It’s brought in a lot of excitement for the athletes,” he said. “I know some people were hesitant, but once we got it out there how we wanted it, we’ve been getting a lot of positive feedback. We’ve been holding onto it, and now that they’re out, everyone will start giving their opinions. That’s the anxiety about it, but they’re done and we like them here.”
Many also should recall that the Vandals have done much of their winning in Pride Gold.
The Dennis Erickson coaching tree, and string of potent Vandal offenses guided by All-American quarterbacks; the Don Monson-led, Sweet 16 men’s basketball team; and Pat Dobratz’s women’s program, which posted 20 wins five times and claimed the 1986 Women’s National Invitation Tournament championship — UI wouldn’t mind if its rebrand conjured up some more of that magic.
“The ’80s, ’90s, this is what we were,” Castro said. “I know a lot of people in town are excited about the color coming back, getting back to the roots.”
Clark may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter @ClarkTrib or by phone at (208) 848-2260.