Keuka College is changing its sports nickname after threats of legal action by North Carolina State University. The two schools both use the name ‘Wolfpack’ for their sports teams.
After eight months of negotiating claims of trademark infringement, Keuka college has thrown in the towel. The school’s sports teams are switching to the ‘Wolves’, and the campus is not taking the change lightly.
N.C. State is a nationally recognized Division I NCAA school with more than 25,000 undergraduate students.
Keuka College sits in the heart of the Finger Lakes region, with Division III NCAA athletics and less than 1,000 students on campus.
Keuka’s VP of Advancement Amy Story said, “We’re very small, and we were just surprised that North Carolina State would take this stance with somebody who clearly doesn’t really have the potential to harm their brand at all.”
At first glance, the only similarity between the two brands are their names: “Wolfpack.” The team logos and color schemes both show contrasts.
Storey says when it comes to trademark battles, there are usually collegial discussions. They say this was not the case.
“There was no formal cease-and-desist letter or anything like that, but it was very strongly worded, and we negotiated for number of months but they were just not willing to concede anything,” said Storey.
Keuka College offered to separate the names ‘Wolf’ and ‘Pack’ for its teams, and pay licensing fees to N.C. State.
Storey says most of the school’s funding comes from student tuition, so Keuka did not want to use those resources to fight the case in court.
Junior lacrosse and soccer player Zach Briggs said, “I just think that N.C. State has more things to worry about personally then just a nickname change. I mean there’s plenty of other schools nicknamed the Wolfpack.”
The Wolfpack name was brought about for the 2014-2015 season and recommended by students. This was after they banded together for relief efforts when the area flooded earlier that year.
Sophomore soccer player Kenna Kosinski said, “the Wolfpack name is still going to be embedded in our community. We’re all close and tight knit, and even if it’s not going to be officially called the Wolfpack we’re still going to treat it as were all one unit.”
College officials say the team names will switch to the ‘Wolves’ at the end of the academic year, though the logo, mascot, and team colors will remain the same.