UTRGV President recommends “Vaqueros” as athletic nickname for new university

President Bailey suggests green, blue and orange for UTRGV colors

EL PASO – After months of soliciting input from thousands of stakeholders, President Guy Bailey has made a much-anticipated recommendation on the colors and athletic nickname to represent The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.

Citing the importance of honoring the heritage, culture and traditions of the Rio Grande Valley, Bailey recommended the “Vaqueros” to represent UTRGV’s athletic teams. For colors, he suggested maintaining the green of UT Pan American, the blue of UT Brownsville, with orange as an accent color.

“In the end, I truly believe it was imperative to recommend something that is authentic to the Rio Grande Valley, represents the spirit of South Texas and can be embraced by the entire region,” Bailey said.

The vaqueros were the horsemen and cattle herders who laid the foundation for the North American cowboy and cowboy culture. There is no more iconic figure in American lore than the cowboy and that iconic figure was born in the Rio Grande Valley.

Bailey made the recommendation to the UT System’s Board of Regents’ Academic Affairs committee in a meeting today. The committee approved the recommendation and the full board will consider it Thursday for a final vote.

“The board recognizes the significance of this decision. We are laying the foundation for generations of traditions,” said Regent Ernie Aliseda, who is from McAllen. “As a Valley resident, I especially appreciate President Bailey’s careful and thoughtful deliberation on this matter and for all the input provided by students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members.”

Thousands of stakeholders participated in online surveys to voice their opinions and suggestions and hundreds more were engaged through public forums and focus groups during the last several months. Though there was little consensus for a particular athletic nickname, most respondents did support preserving and uniting the colors of UTB and UTPA by selecting both blue and green. Regents’ Rules stipulate that orange must be included in all UT institutions’ color palette. 

Two student leaders from UTB and UTPA were recognized at the meeting for their leadership and counsel on committees that aided Bailey in his recommendation.

“We are so honored to have represented the prospective students of UTRGV in this important decision. I believe this a wonderful choice to unify the students of UTB and UTPA,” said Erendira Santillana, student government president at UTB. “It is time to come together as one student body.”

Alberto Adame, student government president of UTPA, said it’s time to create new traditions.

“We will always honor the legacies of the past. Our history is important and it will not be forgotten,” Adame said. “I think the Vaqueros is a perfect choice that represents South Texas and honors our past and the region’s impact on the state.”

Bailey reviewed numerous sources of suggestions as he considered his recommendation. Ultimately, he said it was important to make a choice on both the athletic nickname and colors that was authentic to the Rio Grande Valley, that honored the traditions of UT Brownsville and UT Pan American, and, perhaps most importantly, that created a new, independent legacy for UT Rio Grande Valley.

Though leaders across the Valley had been vocal in expressing differing opinions on an athletic nickname, they rallied around Bailey today, urging support and unity.

“Choosing a mascot clearly was not an easy decision. I am personally grateful that the students, alumni and public were allowed to provide input,” said Brownsville Mayor Tony Martinez. “Now that the decision has been made, it is time to move forward, to support and promote UTRGV and its mascot and to work together to make UTRGV a premier university in South Texas.”

Edinburg Mayor Richard Garcia expressed a similar view.

“I will always be proud of being a Bronc, but I’m extremely excited about the opportunities that UTRGV brings to our students and the entire region,” Garcia said. “So, I will personally support the UTRGV mascot and the leadership in this new era.”

In addition to guidance from a committee of 30 student leaders and a steering committee of staff, faculty, students and alumni, The University of Texas System also engaged a national expert with significant experience and a successful track record in rebranding and logo development for universities and professional sports teams.

Next steps include designing logos and the look for the Vaqueros. Also, a team mascot – the character that inspires the crowd from the sidelines – must be chosen. Bailey stressed that students will have a premier role in that process.

“Selecting colors and an athletic nickname may not seem to be weighty decisions compared with the work of designing academic programs and the organizational structure of a new university, but the board realizes that these decisions get to the heart and soul of our wonderful new UTRGV,” said Regents Vice Chairman Gene Powell, who also serves as the board’s special liaison to South Texas. “Selecting the Vaquero gives the region something tangible to rally around. As a native of the Rio Grande Valley, I know that the selection of Vaquero will be a unifying moment for UTRGV. And I am excited that we begin today to build a new legacy for the Rio Grande Valley.”

About The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley was created by the Texas Legislature in 2013 in a historic move that will combine the resources and assets of UT Brownsville and UT Pan American and, for the first time, make it possible for residents of the Rio Grande Valley to benefit from the Permanent University Fund. The institution will also be home to a School of Medicine and will transform Texas and the nation by becoming a leader in student success, teaching, research and healthcare. UTRGV will enroll its first class in the fall of 2015, and the School of Medicine will open in 2016.

About The University of Texas System

Educating students, providing care for patients, conducting groundbreaking research and serving the needs of Texans and the nation for more than 130 years, The University of Texas System is one of the largest public university systems in the United States, with nine academic universities, six health institutions and an enrollment of more than 214,000. The UT System confers more than one-third of the state’s undergraduate degrees, educates two-thirds of the state’s health care professionals annually and accounts for almost 70 percent of all research funds awarded to public universities in Texas. The UT System has an annual operating budget of $15.6 billion (FY 2015) including $3 billion in sponsored programs funded by federal, state, local and private sources. With about 90,000 employees, the UT System is one of the largest employers in the state.