UC Riverside wants new identity and logo

The UC Riverside Highlanders' current athletics logo currently features a bear with half its face painted blue in honor of Scottish hero William Wallace, the subject of the movie "Braveheart" starring Mel Gibson.

The logo was created after students voted to help fund a Division I program in 1998. Now the school is asking its fans to help select a new logo, offering 12 new designs to choose from (Logo No. 12 is the current one).

Should the bear wear a Scottish bonnet? Should it show off its teeth and claws? Should it appear like it just came out of the weight room looking to maul someone? Or should the bear be retired in favor of interlocking letters?

These are the questions new athletic director Brian Wickstrom faces after leaving UTEP to come to the lowest-funded department in the Big West, according to The Press-Enterprise.

"We want to start to build our identity," Wickstrom said.

The first step will be a new logo. The school launched a campaign this week to pick a new logo, with 13 options online. Fans can pick their favorites at gohighlanders.com. The top four selections will be unveiled at Midnight Madness. The new logo is scheduled to be announced at the Nov. 30 basketball game against USC.

Scotty the mascot will remain, but getting a recognizable brand identity out in the public is important, Wickstrom said.

On the court, UC Riverside under coach Jim Wooldridge is coming off back-to-back 12-win seasons. But there are positive signs.

The Highlanders' roster is loaded with returning seniors, and for the future, Wooldridge brought in two potential impact transfers who are from the area in guards Chris Harriel from Portland State and Robert Smith from Santa Clara.

Also, the Highlanders get the aforementioned home game against USC, which will play on the UC Riverside campus for the first time. They play on the road against UTEP. And they're the Big West representative in the 76 Classic, getting an opening-round game against Villanova.

"This is the most difficult and challenging schedule in UCR history" Wooldridge said in a statement. "Our guys are really excited about the pre-conference schedule which should have us prepared for Big West Conference competition."