ST. AMANT, LA (WAFB) - The company that licenses college and university logos has ordered a Louisiana high school to change its brand.
Officials said the gator logo St. Amant High School uses looks too much like the one used by the University of Florida.
The fierce green gator has been the face of the Ascension Parish high school since the 1980s. It is on the walls of the school and at the center of everything athletes do. Students and school staff wear it proudly.
"It's tradition," said Matt Blanchard, a St. Amant senior. "We've been having it pretty much forever. It's all we know."
Lauren Langlois, a basketball player, has taken her "A" game to the hardwood as a St. Amant Gator for four years.
"We're from south Louisiana, so, like the swamp, we believe gators are strong and represent our school and athletics," Langlois said.
While St. Amant's school colors are black and gold, its actual logo closely resembles the one used by the university, which sports the orange and blue. The Collegiate Licensing Company noticed the similarities and issued a cease and desist order to the Ascension Parish School System.
It states, "on behalf of the University of Florida... To notify you of the concerns that the University has with your school's use of designs that are nearly identical to the gator head design MARK and script gators design MARK owned by the institution. Provide me with written assurances... That your school will cease using the gator head design MARK and script gators design MARK."
"We just could not believe that they would actually believe that we were actually doing harm or would diminish their logo," said Mia Edwards, principal of St. Amant High.
Edwards said she recognizes the two logos are similar, but added the high school never meant for people to confuse its design with the university's. The Ascension Parish School System has come up with a plan to phase out the gator and font used to spell it by the year 2018.
The licensing company responded, "The University is agreeable to the attached phase out schedule and is therefore willing to consider the matter closed."
St. Amant is in the process of coming up with a new gator to represent the school. Edwards said administrators are going the extra mile to make sure the logo sticks.
"We are looking at trademarks, whatever we come up with, so we don't run into this problem again," Edwards said.
The school is reaching out to the community for ideas on its new logo. The principal said a student focus group will review them and make a decision in September.