By Kyle LoJacono
Land O’ Lakes High principal Ric Mellin knew the University of Florida (UF) would eventually ask high schools to end the use of the Gators logo, which proved prophetic.
UF sent letters Sept. 17 to two South Florida high schools, asking them to, “phase out use of the gator head and Gators script that are similar or identical to those of the college.”
Land O’ Lakes did not receive the letter because Mellin foresaw the potential problem. He became the Gators principal in March 2009, coming from the same position at Mitchell High.
“At Mitchell we had a mustang logo that was very similar to what they use at the University of Western Michigan (Broncos),” Mellin said. “We were asked to change that logo and we did, so when I came here I decided to be proactive and call UF to see if things were ok. They asked us to change the logo, so we did.”
Former Land O’ Lakes yearbook sponsor Kim Saavedra, now at Anclote High, came up with the new Gators logo, which is an alligator’s head sticking out of the water. The new logo was unveiled for last school year.
Saavedra said while designing the new logo she wanted it to still obviously be a gator while being very different from what UF uses.
There are other images of gators around the school, including one standing with LOL across its chest on the side of the weight room. Mellin said those are not the official logo.
UF spokeswoman Janine Sikes said the university does not have a problem with schools using the name Gators, only to logos that are the same or nearly the same as the gator head. She said the university feels it has to protect its registered trademark in part so people do not confuse UF with a high school.