GRAMBLING, La. -- It turns out Grambling State never owned
the oval G logo it has used on its football helmets for almost 31
The school created a furor among its fans when it announced last
week that it planned to design a new athletic logo because the
school has no legal way to make anyone pay for using the current
The trademark had lapsed, officials said. But school records
show that, in reality, the school didn't even apply for a trademark
on the oval G until Jan. 14, 1997, and was turned down in February
The design was too close to previously registered trademarks,
according to paperwork provided by GSU spokeswoman Vickie Jackson.
The Green Bay Packers hold the trademark. They've used their
oval G since 1961.
The NFL club says it granted limited permission to use a similar
mark to the University of Georgia (in 1964) and to Grambling.
Grambling's application was listed as "abandoned" on Dec. 18,
1998, causing some confusion.
Jackson said school officials have held on-again, off-again
discussions about a new design since 1998.
"Grambling, with its renown and international acclaim, should
have its own mark," Jackson said. "This administration is taking
us to another level. Part of that is standardizing the look."
Some fans say aggressive marketing and management might do
better for Grambling, since fans know the current logo.
After all, Georgia is currently the No. 3 seller among clients
of Collegiate Licensing Company -- the oldest and largest licensing
representative in the nation.
It was chosen in part as a tribute to Willie Davis, who had
graduated from Grambling and gone on to become the school's first
Hall of Fame while playing for Green Bay, said Wilbert Ellis, who
was then an assistant to R.W.E. Jones -- at that time, both school
president and baseball coach.
Over the four previous years, Grambling had gone 39-9 in
football, sharing three conference titles and seeing 25 of its
players taken in the NFL draft.
Ellis said football coach Eddie Robinson, Jones, the late
basketball coach Fred Hobdy and longtime sports information
director Collie J. Nicholson met to come up with a logo for the
football helmets, then just black.
"Back in the day, that wasn't important to us at all," said
Doug Williams, who first started for Grambling as a freshman in
1974, and went on to succeed Robinson as coach. "Uniforms and
fanciness were not important. That's basically what made Grambling
what it is. We were plain. We just had a good product on the
But it quickly became important. "We knew, from then on, we
were representing the 'G,"' said basketball coach Larry Wright,
who starred for Hobdy's squads from 1973-76.
Williams, coach from 1998-2003, said a G with a tiger --
essentially the same logo proposed last week -- was brought forward
four or five years ago.
"I told them back then that you can change it, but we're not
going to put in on the helmet," he said.
No one could recall the exact details of how Grambling gained
permission to use the logo -- or why the school waited so long to
attempt to gain its own trademark.
"The 'G' is legendary," said Wright. "It goes right along
with Eddie Robinson, Ralph Waldo Emerson Jones, Fred Hobdy. So,
when you talk about that and the history of this school, there will
have to be some economic decision involved in changing it.
"And, as I understand it, there is."
Earling Hunter, a Monroe native who graduated from Grambling in
1998, said the proposed new logo is OK by him.
"I like the fact that the new logo could incorporate the tiger
mascot, and that it does not completely abandon the traditional
Grambling 'G,"' Hunter said. "Although I love the 'G,' and even
have tattoo of that emblem on my right arm, I still have no
objection to the change."