Stanford Cardinal Traditions
Discover the stories behind the school's nickname, mascot and more
Stanford University unofficial
mascot "The Tree" adds spirit
to gamedays at Stanford
Ever since Stanford first began playing football in 1891, the university has treated college football with a
long line of great players and coaches, along with a never ending supply of intriguing events and stories.

Early highlights include the university's participation in the first Rose Bowl that was played in 1902.  The
game against Michigan marked the first of 11 appearances that the Northern California school has made.

Stanford has not only gained fame with its claim to a 1926 national championship, but can also boast
about its Heisman Trophy winner and coach of the year honorees.

Stepping off the field, Stanford offers a colorful nickname saga and possesses one of the most intriguing
trees in college sports.  On a zany note, Stanford's band has gained national attention for some of its on the
field, but non musical performances.
Location: Stanford, CA
Conference: PAC 12
Colors: Cardinal & White

Let a Stanford fan hear you call their school the Cardinals and you're likely to see their face turn cardinal
red. Stanford's official nickname is the Cardinal, which serves as a reflection of the school color first
embraced in 1891.  There is no affiliation with the type of Cardinals that nest in St. Louis, Phoenix or

Despite sportswriters first referring to Stanford by the Cardinal nickname over a century ago, Stanford
fought its athletic battles under the "Indian" nickname for more than 40 years.  The
'brave' new name officially hit the warpath in 1930, but the university had been associated with the Indian's
heritage for a number of years prior to that.
Varying reasons have been given for why Stanford became associated with Indians.  Some believe it was
because their cross-bay rival California featured a bear as its symbol.  Others have credited the large
Indian population in Northern California along with the abundance of Indian paraphernalia on hand in the
late 1800s.

Despite a rich athletic tradition earned under the Indian banner that included Rose Bowl wins and a
Heisman Trophy season, Stanford dropped the nickname in 1972.  Native American students enrolled at
Stanford and other California colleges felt the use of the Indian nickname was an insult to their culture and

Because of the mounting pressure, the university's student senate voted to drop the name. The decision
was later approved by Stanford president Richard Lyman.  Later efforts to restore the Indian nickname were
twice voted down by the student body.
Colleges that
changed their
Nickname or Mascot
See schools that have
revised their names and
images in an effort to be
less offensive and more
politically correct.