Marquette's Nickname


From 1954 to 1994 Marquette athletics nickname was officially the Warriors for all sports. Prior to that period, athletic teams were known as the Blue & Gold unofficially, then the Hilltoppers officially, but then eventually the Golden Avalanche was used for the Men's Football team only.

In 1993-1994 Father DiUlio, who was the president of the university at the time, outraged students and alums by deciding to change the team's athletic nickname. Inexplicably, the only choices given to stakeholders were “Lightning” and “Golden Eagles,” neither of which had any historical or logical connection to Marquette.

Since that time, the name change has always bubbled near the surface of the emotions of a large number of Marquette alumni. In fact, at commencement in 2004, the issue gained renewed media attention when Wayne Sanders, who was the vice chair of Marquette's board of trustees, offered $2 million – $1 MM from himself and another $1 MM from an anonymous trustee – if Marquette would change it's nickname back to Warriors before joining the Big East Conference. The monetary gift was immediately declined, but Father Wild, the new president of the university, determined that the proposal would be considered.

The debate went on for a year from May 2004 to May 2005, during which time the board of trustees passed a resolution stating that “Marquette will prohibit the use of Native American references, symbolism or imagery in its athletics logo, nickname, or mascot ”. The university conducted a poll in which 92 percent of alumni respondents said they identified with the name “Warriors.” In the same poll, 62 percent of students also identified with “Warriors. The same survey listed the most common words used to describe “Golden Eagles” as boring (57%), weak (55%) and common (52%).

Despite that mandate from the Marquette Community, the Board of Trustees rejected “Warriors” on the grounds that previous logo images were disrespectful to Native Americans. Instead, recognizing the extreme dislike for “Golden Eagles,” they shockingly decided to change the nickname to simply “Gold.” An intensely negative reaction by students, faculty, alumni, and fans led the university to ask the Marquette community to vote for a new nickname. The choices given were conspicuous for what was not an option…“Warriors.” In effect, the university first held a poll (in 2004) that determined a large majority of fans wanted to be rid of the name “Golden Eagles.” They then held another (in 2005) that offered up to ten nickname options, but not the one nickname the majority desired. In fact, the second poll went out of its way to claim that “Warriors” write-in votes would NOT be counted. Of course, in the end, the company conducting the poll DID release the number of write-in votes for “Warriors,” in a laughably transparent attempt to show a lack of support for the name. - - Regardless, and likely a direct consequence of the university's failure to commission a new “Warriors” logo, the Native American logos used in the past continue to be seen in excess at every Marquette sporting event. Even current students, who were youngsters when the original decision to change the nickname was announced, continue to chant “Let's Go Warriors” during men's basketball games.

Nickname Timeline

  • Circa 1892-1916 – Football team is known as “blue and gold” or “football squad.”
  • 1917-1954 – Marquette nicknamed “Hilltoppers” because of its original location on a hill between North 10th and State streets.
  • 1924-1937 – Marquette nickname “Golden Avalanche” used for football team while all other teams referred to as “Hilltoppers.”
  • May 1954 – Name “the Warriors” is adopted at the first meeting of the Student Senate, replacing names Golden Avalanche and Hilltoppers
  • Oct. 28, 1960 – Marquette Tribune article reports that at the Student Senate meeting on Oct. 26, 1960 a motion passed to form a committee to effect the Warrior caricature
  • Feb. 1961 – name of Willie Wampum emerges from a student who won $5 in a “Name the Warrior” contest
  • Feb. 24, 1961 – Willie Wampum first appears at a Marquette basketball game
  • Feb. 15, 1971 – Student Senate passes resolution requesting the administration permanently retire the character of Willie Wampum as soon as possible (16 to 9 vote)
  • April 1, 1971 – memo from James H. Scott, vice president for student affairs to Dr. Samuel P. Sauceda, director of athletics, stating it is his “conclusion that Willie Wampum as he is currently known, named, and symbolized, be retired now and the designation of ‘Warriors’ be retained.”
  • Nov. 7, 1978 – Marquette Tribune article notes that the Committee on Student Life “approved a proposal last week to develop an ‘American Indian Symbol’ that would represent Marquette University primarily at athletic events.”
  • Feb. 10, 1980 –First Warrior makes his debut at the Duke basketball game;
  • Official memorandum from the First Warrior Advisory Committee to Dr. James Scott, vice president for student affairs, (dated February 1987) states that “the First Warrior was selected in the late 1970s to be a symbol of Marquette’s relationship with Indians and to visualize the university’s commitment.”
  • 1986 – 1987 Season – First Warrior abandoned after season when Native American students no longer wish to participate
  • 1984 to 1990 – Bleuteaux is in place by the 1984 – 1985 basketball season; remains in place through 1990
  • Sept. 26, 1990 – Last Warrior was the winner in a student referendum, but athletics department rejects proposal of Associated Students of Marquette University Mascot Selection Committee (per Tribune article Dec. 4, 1990)
  • Oct. 1993 – Marquette announces its decision to discontinue the use of the Warriors name and logo
  • April 1994 – Students vote on new nickname, choosing between Lightning and Golden Eagles

Nickname Media Articles

Associated Press

Chicago Tribune

Milwaukeechannel.com (WISN)

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Racine Journal Times

San Jose Mercury News


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