History and Traditions

John B. Stetson

Why Hatters?

The unlikely combination of a famous hat manufacturer and a university produced a novel nickname for Stetson University. The athletic teams are called "Hatters," reflecting the university's association with John B. Stetson, maker of the well-known Stetson hats. It all began in 1883 when Henry DeLand founded the DeLand Academy. Three years later, after a disastrous freeze affecting the citrus industry left DeLand in financial distress, Stetson, who had a winter home in DeLand, became interested in the school. At Deland's request, Stetson was made chairman of the Board of Trustees in 1889 and the university was renamed in his honor. Stetson University fielded the first football team in Florida in 1901. The name "Hatter" was used then and is still in use today. 


Stetson Colors

The official Stetson colors are a rich dark green (PMS 342) and white, representing the trees and orange blossoms prevalent in the Central Florida area. White represents purity, and green, significant growth. At the first commencement in 1893, the stage was decorated in green and white. These colors also were used first at the beginning of intercollegiate athletics in Florida. Newspaper accounts of the first Florida college football game in 1901 told of Stetson fans waving their colors of green and white as they cheered their team to victory.


Stetson Fight Song

Stetson U will win the game,
Listen to our cheer,

Shout the glory of your name,
Spread it far and near,

Alma Mater, praise to thee,
And our teammates true,

Marching on to victory,

John B.

The Mascot

Stetson University’s Hatter mascot has taken on a variety of looks over the past 50 years – from a 10-gallon hat with big eyes and curled eyelashes to a leprechaun-looking Mad Hatter. There was even a pot-bellied statue that stood on the Hat Rack patio from 1959-67. 

The previous version, a Mad Hatter with a crazy “Doc Brown” hair-style and giant teeth, was rumored to have scared children, and stopped making public appearances 15 years ago.

In spring 2011, Stetson kicked off a Mascot Challenge to give the Hatters a new look and personality. Alumni, students, faculty, staff, student organizations and university departments were invited to submit ideas and drawings, and everyone including the general public was given an opportunity to vote on the 70 creative submissions. Ideas ranged from a Hatter-pillar, a bear, several cowboy types and even a few fictitious creatures.

On Jan. 20, 2012, John B. made his first public appearance at halftime of the Hatters’ Atlantic Sun Conference basketball game against Florida Gulf Coast. With sirens blaring and his whip cracking, he delighted the crowd while performing with the Stetson cheerleaders.

With his signature Stetson hat, green bandana and alligator skin boots, John B is a fixture at Stetson athetic competitions and other campus and community events. 

  1985   1995 

A History of Stetson Football (PDF)

A History of Stetson Rowing (PDF)

Stetson Athletics Hall of Fame