This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2015, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
You can't put a price, some would argue, on a unified fan section.
Leaders of Dixie State University believe the going rate is $50,000.
That's how much the St. George school is paying a team of Salt Lake City consultants to think up a new mascot. Love Communications, Dixie State announced Monday, will pitch three candidates for a new ambassador for campus and athletics sometime in December.
Retiring the "Red Storm" nickname and Big "D" the Bull aims to clear the distaste that's lingered among many in the southwestern corner of Utah known as "Dixie" since 2009, when the school's longtime Rebel mascot was replaced.
Few have any specific gripes with "Red Storm," said Athletic Director Jason Boothe, but any successor would have fallen short of palatable.
"Everyone wants Rebels," he said, "but of course that's not going to happen."
College administrators cut that tie with the slave-owning South about four years before lawmakers granted the school university status. More recently, in January, the school returned a campus statue of Confederate soldiers to the artist.
But despite urging from some Dixie professors, there are no plans to rethink the school's name a nod to 19th century pioneers' long-abandoned cotton fields.
So far, suggestions have included "everything from pioneers to raptors to random things," he said.
The incoming substitute must honor the region's hardscrabble history, said Boothe, a co-chairman of a school's Identity Committee, set to work with five Love employees.
For example: "We can't be the kangaroos, because how are you going to connect to that? It'll be something key to the area that will just fit."
The timing is pertinent for the school's NCAA Division II teams.
This fall, Dixie State's athletics department is beginning to ask donors to invest in a renovation of its football stadium.
"Having that nickname and that moniker," whatever it may be, said Associate Athletic Director Steve Johnson, "is going to go a long way."
Johnson and his colleagues believe they are in good hands.
Love Communications began working on the project about two weeks ago, after Dixie chose the firm from a group of five companies that bid on the project in the summer, said Aaron Evans, a Love vice president and group account director.
His employees have a tricky job, Evans acknowledges. They must create a forward-thinking moniker and still honor the region's past.
"It's always a delicate balance when you're renaming anything," Evans said, "whether it's a sports team or developing a name for an organization or a school."
Previously, his firm thought up the colors, logo and other elements for Real Salt Lake, Utah's Major League Soccer team. It also has directed local campaigns for the Colorado Rockies and Walt Disney Studios.
The public university of roughly 6,100 students, who pay $4,300 a year in tuition, is a lower-maintenance client than most corporations, Evans said.
"This is a dream project, especially for our art directors," Evans added. "The sky's the limit on the creativity that they can bring to it."
On campus, the school panel, made up of 12 faculty members, administrators and students, is expected to make a final decision by the end of the semester. Crews will start to put up new signs and other campus features in spring semester, said spokeswoman Jyl Hall.
The committee includes Dixie President Richard Williams, who could not be reached Monday.