COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The casual Western New York sports fan may get confused during the NCAA Tournament game between the University at Buffalo and West Virgina.
What is it with those UB uniforms? Why is "New York" so big and "Buffalo" so small?
For those who have not been paying close attention the past two years: It's an attempt to make people - especially on a national level - understand that UB is the flagship university of the New York State system and it's on a par in terms of its size and academic standing with the other biggest state universities in the country.
This is the biggest exposure UB has received since starting its "New York Bulls Initiative" two years ago.
"It’s probably the largest platform we’ve played on," said UB Athletics Director Danny White. "I think that the whole point of the New York Bulls Initiative is to tell the country those things that you instantly assume when you see Ohio State take the court, or when you see the University of Michigan or the University of Texas. You assume that’s the premier public university from that state. We’re trying to tell that story."
Western New Yorkers are used to seeing "Buffalo" on UB's jerseys. UB still has work to do in selling the concept to Buffalo-area fans. However, White said he does not get much push-back on the uniforms from UB's rank-and-file fans.
"Very little," he said. "The people who are actually close to our athletic department – season-ticket holders, donors, alumni – they get it. Typically when someone is angry about it, if we have a conversation, nine times out of 10, they start to understand."
White tells everyone he can UB is one of the premier research institutions in the country. He and UB President Satish Tripathi decided that emphasizing "New York" gets that message across better.
"We’re not going to change the way everyone else in the country brands themselves in college athletics. We either conform or we continue to be an anomaly."
By that, White means universities like Texas, Cal, Ohio State and others are branded the flagship universities of their states.
"We’ve talked about this place being a sleeping giant," White said of UB. "The reason is it’s the biggest public university in New York State. If we’re not telling people that, we’re missing a huge opportunity."