We Are Red Dragons

We are Red Dragons. This includes all members of the SUNY Cortland community — incoming and current students, alumni, faculty, staff and friends of the university. Our athletic teams are the Red Dragons.

A Red Dragon is depicted across campus in our athletics primary and secondary logos, the university secondary mark, illustrations and dragon details, the iconic Red Dragon sculpture at Stadium Complex and in Blaze, our costumed mascot.


It was 1933, and the university we know today as SUNY Cortland needed a better nickname.

Founded in 1868 as Cortland Normal School, a school for teachers, its prevailing moniker—the “Normals”—didn’t seem appropriate for an institution with an abnormally impressive football team riding a 15-game unbeaten streak, outscoring opponents 165 to 15 in the process.

So when a team manager, inspired by the flying-red-horse trademark adorning Mobil gas stations, suggested “Red Dragons,” it stuck. The rest, as they say, is history.

Though the name may have originated with sports, it goes far beyond that today. Red Dragon spirit equals Cortland spirit — the spirit of champions, and it’s obvious in classrooms, across campus, on the athletic fields and in just about every other place Cortland students, faculty, staff or alumni come together.


Red Dragons are strong, high-energy, active, motivated, curious, hardworking, ambitious, passionate, sincere, kind, welcoming, helpful, friendly, outgoing, social and optimistic.

Red Dragon Strong, Red Dragon Pride

These phrases help showcase the spirit of SUNY Cortland and can apply to all members of its community.

Red Dragon Strong

Members of our campus community are resilient; they overcome adversity and support each other through challenges. “Red Dragon Strong” is an expression of compassion, solidarity and friendship.

  • Providing encouragement or demonstrating perseverance during a challenging time. This can range from a global crisis like COVID-19, to Cortland-specific moments such as finals week or the passing of a faculty member, to individual difficulties and triumphs.
  • Offering advice or promoting helpful resources.
  • Displaying examples of courage or community service.
  • Celebrating the differences that make us stronger together.

Red Dragon Pride

This phrase recognizes achievements and highlights the things that make SUNY Cortland and Red Dragons special.

  • Celebrating academic, social and athletic feats or victories.
  • Honoring exceptional or award-winning individuals, teams or programs.
  • Discussing rankings or features that make SUNY Cortland one-of-a-kind.
  • Showing enthusiasm for the university.