Skip to Content

What were the original school colors for Syracuse?

What were the original school colors for Syracuse?

Syracuse University has a long history dating back to 1870 when it was founded as a Methodist-Episcopal institution. Over the past 150+ years, the university has developed traditions around its academic programs, architecture, and school spirit. An important part of this identity and school pride are Syracuse’s official colors of orange and blue.

Early History of Syracuse University

Syracuse University was founded in 1870 as the Genesee Wesleyan Seminary by the Methodist Episcopal Church. It was originally located in Lima, New York before relocating to Syracuse in 1871 and being renamed the Syracuse University.

The early curriculum focused on classical education and preparing students for professions like law, medicine, and ministry. Women were admitted from the start, which was progressive for the time. The first building constructed was von Ranke Library (now Tolley Administration Building) in 1871.

In the late 1800s, Syracuse added new academic programs in fine arts, engineering, journalism, library science, and physical education. This expanded curriculum helped the student body grow quickly in the early decades.

Adoption of School Colors

The original school colors and mascot for Syracuse University were rose pink and pea green. These colors were chosen by a committee of students and staff in 1890.

However, these colors were not very popular with the student body. Many thought they were too feminine and light to represent their school spirit. Some students began wearing orange ribbons to sporting events instead.

In the late 1890s, the student government formally requested the university change the school colors to orange, which they viewed as more bold and distinctive. The request was approved, and Syracuse adopted orange as the official primary color.

Light blue was later added as a secondary color. One theory is that it was chosen because the first campus building, von Ranke Library, had blue stone masonry. This palette of orange and blue became synonymous with Syracuse tradition.

Evolution of the Athletics Nickname

With new school colors came the evolution of a new school mascot. In the early years, Syracuse teams did not have an official nickname. Competing collegiate teams often applied their own nicknames when referring to Syracuse.

Some of the early unofficial nicknames included “The Orangemen”, “The Orange” and “The Colored Orange-men.” The term Orangemen referred to Syracuse students wearing orange. By the turn of the 20th century, local newspapers were commonly using The Orange to refer to Syracuse sports teams.

In 2004, Syracuse University officially adopted The Orange as the school’s nickname and mascot. Otto the Orange was introduced as the orange costumed mascot. The choice reinforced the color orange as central to Syracuse tradition.

Consistency in Colors and Branding

For over a century, Syracuse University has maintained the consistent use of orange and blue in its academic and athletic branding. The colors appear on uniforms, brochures, merchandise, websites, and campus architecture.

Orange is always the dominant color, with blue as the secondary accent shade. Using these colors reinforces Syracuse’s unique identity among American universities. Fans often wear orange clothing or accessories to show their school support.

School Color Hex Code
Syracuse Orange #D44500
Syracuse Blue #00356B

The specific shades that represent Syracuse are Pantone 158 for Syracuse Orange and Pantone 288 for Syracuse Blue. The hex color codes for these hues are #D44500 and #00356B respectively. Using the precise brand colors strengthens Syracuse’s visual identity.

Use of Colors in Athletics

Syracuse University competes in NCAA Division I athletics as the Syracuse Orange. The school has 21 varsity teams across sports like basketball, football, soccer, lacrosse, and more.

Orange and blue are displayed prominently on the uniforms, logos, and other gear of Syracuse athletes. These colors allow fans to immediately recognize a Syracuse team.

Sport Uniform Colors
Basketball Orange and white with blue accents
Football Orange helmets and jerseys with blue accents
Soccer Orange jerseys and socks with blue shorts
Lacrosse Orange helmets and jerseys with white and blue accents

The uniforms showcase the brand colors that fans identify with Syracuse. The logo featuring an orange block S is also proudly displayed. This consistency across teams reinforces Syracuse athletics as a unified brand.

Use of Colors in Academics

The colors are not limited just to athletics. Orange and blue are integrated across Syracuse University’s academic programs as well. School graduation gowns feature orange piping on blue fabric.

Various departmental graduation stoles use orange and blue colors to represent different areas of study. Orange and blue decorations are used at school ceremonies like commencement to showcase Syracuse pride.

Many campus buildings have blue and orange design elements integrated into their architecture and interior decor. This reinforces the brand identity across the academic environment.


Syracuse University’s original school colors were rose pink and pea green when it was founded in 1870. However, these colors were impractical and unpopular.

In the 1890s, Syracuse adopted orange as the primary school color, with light blue selected later as an accent shade. This established the classic brand identity used by Syracuse athletics and academics to this day.

The pairing of orange and blue creates a distinctive, easily recognizable look for Syracuse University. After over a century of use, these colors are an integral part of the traditions and spirit of campus life in Syracuse, New York.