Evolution of the Cincinnati Bearcats


The University of Cincinnati can trace its roots back to 1819 when Cincinnati College and the Medical College of Ohio were both founded. When the University of Cincinnati was established in 1870, it absorbed both of these institutions, and about 30 years later, its basketball program took shape. The Cincinnati Bearcats are headed to the 2018 NCAA Tournament after a regular season championship and AAC Tournament championship. Let’s take a look at Bearcats history and how the team’s logo has changed from the early days to its current bearcat paw form.


Bearcats History

The Bearcats’ first season took place in 1901-02 under head coach Henry Pratt. The team started to make some noise on a national level in the late 1950s when the Bearcats reached the Sweet 16 for the first time and then went to back-to-back Final Fours the following two seasons. The team then went to the finals three seasons in a row (winning the first two) under coach Ed Jucker.

Their sixth and final Final Four appearance was during the 1991-92 season, and while they’ve been to the tournament quite a few times since then, they haven’t gotten back to that level. Current head coach Mick Cronin has been with the school since the 2006-07 season. He took the team to the Sweet 16 in 2011-12 and hopes to improve on that in this 2018 season.


Logo Evolution

The University of Cincinnati’s athletic teams are known as the Bearcats, a name that dates back to 1914 when a football match with the University of Kentucky led to a perfect storm of creativity and motivation. Kentucky teams are, of course, known as the Wildcats, and a Cincinnati player named Baehr inspired a cheerleader to shout, “They may be Wildcats, but we have a Baehr-cat on our side.” The resulting victory and student newspaper aided this new nickname, and the Bearcats were born.


One of the early versions of the Bearcat logo features a convincing mock-up of what could be called a Bearcat – the full body of a red, snarling bear, complete with prominent claws and feisty whiskers. Above the bear appears the word “Cincinnati,” and “Bearcats” appears to the right of his head.


This ’80s version of the Bearcats logo is quite different from that of the ’50s. Instead of a full-bodied animal, a bearcat head resides in a ring. Again, he’s snarling and has prominent whiskers, while also featuring the rounded ears of a bear.


A full-bodied bearcat reappears in 1990. This one has pointy cat ears instead of the rounded sort and is gray. He appears to be advancing toward the viewer with one paw extended above. “Cincinnati” appears across the top of the logo, and the second “C” is over that extended paw. The Bearcat’s paw is completed with the rest of his paw print, with claws extended above. “Bearcats” is written directly below “Cincinnati.”


The current Bearcats logo is much simpler and draws inspiration from its direct predecessor – well, his extended paw, that is. It’s essentially a Bearcat paw drawn as a “C,” which is adorned with claws. Below, there is a slightly slanted, bold red bar.

Get Your Bearcats On

Are you hoping your Bearcats go far in this year’s tourney? Get your UC gear at Fanatics, where you’ll find loads of authentic swag just in time for the madness to begin.




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