Nicholls State University, founded in 1948, is a public university located in Thibodaux, Louisiana, USA. Nicholls State is part of the University of Louisiana System of universities. Originally called Francis T. Nicholls Junior College, the institution split from the Louisiana State University System in 1956. The university is named for Francis T. Nicholls, a Confederate general, former governor of Louisiana, and member of the Louisiana Supreme Court.
Nicholls is located in Acadiana, also known as "Cajun Country," an area rich in tradition and culture. It is also located in the heart of the Mississippi River Delta, allowing easy access to the river, its distributaries, Louisiana's wetlands, and the Gulf of Mexico. The school is sometimes referred to as "Harvard on the Bayou;" the university bookstore even sells shirts sporting this light-hearted nickname.
Nicholls is the home of the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute.
On November 19, 2005, the No. 24-ranked Nicholls Colonels football team clinched its first Southland Conference Championship by defeating the McNeese State Cowboys 39-26 at John L. Guidry Stadium. With that win, Nicholls finished the regular season tied atop the conference standing with Texas State. The Colonels advanced to the Division I-AA playoffs as the conference champion, based on their 32-29 overtime victory over then fifth-ranked Texas State, but eventually lost to the then No. 3 ranked Furman Paladins, 14-12, in Paladin Stadium in Greenville, S.C.
Nicholls State currently has no physical mascot. The colonel is still used only in name. President Stephen Hulbert stated that "The Colonel is and will remain the mascot designation for Nicholls State University and its intercollegiate athletics program" on March 31, 2004 while calling the current Colonel depiction antiquated and reminiscent of the Civil War in the South. The decision to retire the mascot was made to avoid portraying racist sentiments associated with the Civil war confederacy. Although met with criticism from the school and surrounding community who were in favor of preserving the colonel mascot, the retirement of the mascot was considered vital to the public relations outlook of the university and its policy of solidarity with The University of Louisiana System's policy on discrimination. Hulbert unilaterally retired the mascot despite a vote by students and alumni to retain it, and a student contest to select a new mascot failed.
The Nicholls State University Department of Athletics currently sponsors men's intercollegiate baseball, basketball, football, golf and tennis along with women's intercollegiate basketball, softball, soccer, tennis, track, golf, volleyball and cheerleading.
Nicholls' primary athletic rival is Southeastern Louisiana University.