Duke University’s college basketball program dates back to the early 1900s, but it’s the recent decades that have lifted it to national prominence and perennial tournament appearances. A part of the reason can be attributed to Duke’s long-standing legendary coach Mike Krzyzewski, who has led his squads to five national titles over his tenure beginning in 1980. The Duke Blue Devils are the No. 4 all-time winningest team in NCAA history, and over their 100+ seasons, they’ve gone through a few logo changes too. Let’s take a look at their storied history and how the Blue Devils became what they are today.
Duke University can trace its timeline back to 1838 when it began life as a subscription school and then chartered as a college in 1851. A name change to Trinity College in 1859 took place, and the college was eventually moved to its current locale in Durham in 1892. The name was changed yet again in the ’20s to Duke University, but its basketball program got its start when it was still called Trinity College.
Wilbur Wade “Cap” Card was the initiator at Trinity, having graduated from the college in 1900 and coming back as a physical education director for the school a few years later. The college was approached by the coach of the Wake Forest basketball team for a game, so Card converted the gym and recruited a team. Card coached the team for seven years, and a flurry of other coaches took the reins, but it wasn’t until Coach K got the job in 1980 that the program developed into what is now a modern-day powerhouse that regularly goes to tournaments and wins championships.
Under Coach K, the team has gone to a ton of Final Fours and won five national championships, most recently in 2015. The team has also contributed many players to the NBA, including current players Jabari Parker and Kyrie Irving.
Duke University sports teams are known as the Blue Devils, a name that originated from French soldiers during World War I. Trinity College was searching for a unique, catchy name and settled on the Blue Devils in 1923 as it had garnered support in previous years.
The school’s earliest logos reflect this influence, and over the years, it’s changed quite a bit.
The first Blue Devils logo features the head of a dashing, stern devil, complete with horns and a twisty mustache and goatee – the traditional devil look if you will. Duke is spelled out in capital letters along the bottom right of the logo itself.
In 1948, the logo changes significantly. No longer a simple head, this Blue Devil comes complete with a full body, pointy tail, and menacing trident – plus horns, mustache, and goatee. This guy is standing on the word Duke, which is again in all caps and stretches along the bottom of the logo. A capital “D” adorns his chest.
This version of the Blue Devil is pretty buff compared to the prior two incarnations. He is still depicted with a full body, but he’s facing us and has a very wide and muscular upper body. His features are a bit more cartoonish, but still sports horns, a pointy tail, and a trident. Flames surround his feet as he stands atop the word “Duke.”
Here, we return to a disembodied head. This version is more abstract and lacks a body and the wordmark below.
In 1971, the full-bodied Blue Devil returns, this time with his entire body outlined in flames. He sports a long cape, has a “D” belt buckle, and trident. No words here, either.
The depiction of a Blue Devil disappears for the final version that first appeared in 1978 and remains today. It consists of a white capital “D” against the traditional Duke blue background. Very simple, but very strong and compelling.
Hail the Cameron Crazies
The population of Krzyzewskiville continues to be sky high, with Cameron Crazies hoping to gain admission to a Blue Devils game. If you’re hoping to snag a spot at the Cameron Indoor Stadium, don’t forget to check out Fanatics to grab some authentic gear before you root your Blue Devils on.