Today in History: The Furman Paladin
On September 15, 1961, the student body voted to unify all Furman intercollegiate athletic teams under the symbol of the Paladin, defining a new era and identity for Furman sports.
At Furman University, Paladins are everywhere. From eating at the PalaDen and paying with PalaPoints, to cheering “Roll Dins!” at the homecoming game or upholding the Paladin Promise, there’s no escaping that shining knight atop his white horse. However, it wasn’t until 59 years ago today that Victor the Paladin made his first official appearance representing the university.
The concept of the “Paladin” is a nod to the members of the royal court of Charlemagne, a medieval emperor who united western and central Europe in the Early Middle Ages. His knights, the Paladins, were men of upstanding character and valor, firm in resolve and courageous in their pursuit of honorable objectives. At Furman, however, the name “Paladin” didn’t appear until the 1930s as a nickname bestowed upon the basketball team by Greenville News sportswriter J. Carter “Scoop” Latimer. Latimer referred to the basketball players as “Paladins of the Court.” This clever play on words grew in popularity over the next few decades as students began to amplify their demand for a common name to bring together all Furman sports teams.
In years prior, Furman’s various athletic teams were each represented by a different mascot. The football team had been known as the “Purple Hurricanes” since the 1920s. Baseball players were called the “Hornets,” and the cross country and track teams were the “Harriers.” By the spring of 1961, a number of students were determined to make an official name change. Pep Club president Alvin Brown, student body president Tom Player, and head cheerleader Don Senteil spearheaded the campaign, and a campuswide poll revealed that the majority of the Furman population supported the initiative for a new name. On September 15, 1961, the student body voted to unify all Furman intercollegiate athletic teams under the symbol of the Paladin, defining a new era and identity for Furman sports and fans alike. The football team’s legacy would be preserved by integrating purple pride into the new mascot; today, many people continue to refer to Furman athletes as the “Purple Paladins.”
Finally, as a result of this historic change, the student newspaper The Hornet decided to follow suit. On September 15, 1961, the paper published its first edition under the name that it still proudly bears today - The Furman Paladin.