The Ripon College Red Hawks are members of the Midwest Conference. Their current head coach is Ron Ernst. The team has been known as the Red Hawks since 1985. Prior to that time, the football team was known as the Redmen.
It is widely believed that the name "Redmen" was adopted because of Donald "Red" Martin, who starred in football as a quarterback, and in basketball and track from 1926-1929, and who became a coach of freshman football and basketball in 1930. However, a College Days article of February 7, 1928 indicates that the term Redmen had been used for "several years," and indeed, sportswriters in the Days used the term "Redmen" alongside "Crimson" as early as 1923.
It is commonly asserted that "Redmen" derived from "Red's men," following the convention that referred to teams by their coach's name--usually the coach's last name--"Rippe's men" or "Kolfmen," for instance, after coaches of 1924-1930. In fact, College Days articles can be found which refer to the Martinmen for Martin's basketball teams. Coach Doehling was the athletic director and coach of football and other sports when Martin was a player and coach, and those teams were often called the Doehlingmen or Doehlingites. According to George Miller, however, Coach Doehling made his objections to this practice quite clear.
A survey of the Days does not show a direct link from Red Martin to Redman (which, as stated earlier, was used in Days headlines before Martin was a student). During Martin's years, Crimson, Redmen, Doehlingmen, Doehlingites, the Reds and other phrases were used interchangeably, although the term Redmen appeared to gain in use over the term Crimson in the late 1920s and early 1930s. The Days referred to Martin as the Ripon "Redhead" and used his nickname, Red, frequently--a common practice then. The Days did not call the team "Red's men" while Martin was a player and there are only one or two instances of that while he was a coach. No published source has been found that directly links Red's men to Redmen. "Red" Martin's popularity as athlete and coach may have contributed to the increased use of the nickname Redmen, although, since Coach Doehling was the dominant figure in athletics of that period, it is likely that he influenced the adoption of the name, too. Redmen probably referred, however, simply to the traditional school colors and the name Crimson.
After attention began to be paid to women's athletic activities on campus, some problems occurred with adapting the Redman name to women's teams which might not have occurred with the use of Crimson. No satisfactory nickname for women's teams seems to have been found. "Redwomen" and "Lady Red" were both used in the 1980s and 1990s.
It is not certain when the Indian-head logo was adopted, but the association of the name Redman with stereotypical Native American imagery was well established between 1924 and 1929 in College Days sports columns, college yells, pep rallies, and homecoming events. The use of the Native American stereotypes appears to have increased as the use of the name Redman became more dominant. At that time, references to scalping the opponents, the Redmen tribe, powwows on the Square and squaws were not apparently seen as offensive, but simply added variety to a sportswriter's pool of clichés or the possibilities for Homecoming themes. Other minorities, of course, were accorded similar treatment in other contexts. These stereotypes continued in varying degrees from then through now: A publication for freshmen women published by the Women's Self-Government Association in 1945-46 was titled The Ripon Squaw; the Indian-head logo appeared on cheerleader outfits into the 1970s and that image still appears on floor mats at Storzer.
In summary, Red Martin's years as a player and coach coincide with the transition to the use of Redmen instead of Crimson for college teams, but his nickname does not appear to be the direct source of the Redman name, since it was in use before he was a student. Also, the name Redmen apparently did not originate from Native American imagery, but it did become associated with it fairly quickly. The earliest traditional college name was Crimson, a nickname that survives in the college yearbook title today, reflecting the use of Crimson for academic, social and athletic activities in the early years of Ripon College.
Northrop says there was a significant push under William R. Stott Jr., president of the College from 1985-95, to produce a coherent and consistent identity for the College. "Much of the effort was designed to create and to express a pride in the institution, which had regularly kept its light under a basket or at least hidden in the trees," says Northrop.
In 1985, the College hired Rotelli Design, Inc. of Chicago to design a logo that would distinctively convey the traditional image of Ripon College yet be flexible. Rotelli worked with campus officials to produce recommendations to assist Ripon in presenting a consistent, well-defined image to the public. The Ripon College logo type, or Carolus Roman, was adopted at the recommendation of Rotelli and is still used on college publications.
"We worked for a consistent typeface and colors of ink on stationary, posters, brochures and other college objects, including plant department vehicles and other equipment," says Northrop.
Ripon has consistently had a historic affiliation with the color red. At Rotelli's recommendation, a deep red, specifically Pantone Matching System (PMS) color number 201, was adopted as the College's official color.