What is a Don?
The original Don sketched in 1932.
A very different rendering from 1932.
A decidedly dapper Don from 1937.
1947 Don from the yearbook cover.
A version from 1947 with friend.
A fighting Don from 1951.
On horseback in 1951.
Sheet music to "The Fighting Dons."
A stylized Don encourages voting in 2008.
used as a fancy way to address Spanish nobles, the usage of the Don title
evolved to mean a distinguished gentleman. You know the type. It’s an honorific
designation that has sailed across the Atlantic to enjoy broad contemporary
usage for personal, social or official distinction in Latin American and
But how did USF become the Dons?
Until November 1931, our athletic programs were
referred to as the “Grey Fog,” a logical tribute to the cool blanket that
swaddles our city. The San Francisco Junior Chamber of Commerce, however, felt
that the name encouraged a chilly reputation and could hurt the city’s advertising.
So our beloved student newspaper, The San Francisco Foghorn, held a contest, challenging
students and alumni to propose a new name. According to USF Historian Alan
Ziajka in Legacy and Promise: 150 Years of Jesuit Education at the
University of San Francisco, suggestions
included seagulls, seals, and sea lions. In January
1932, a committee of undergraduates, alumni and administrators selected by
Father President Edward Whelan, S.J. considered these and other submissions.
Their votes were tallied to reveal USF’s new name: the Dons.
The new name spawned a more dignified
mascot. In his signature mask and cape, Don Francisco – whose name is a subtle nod to Don
Francisco de Haro, the city’s first mayor – represents a highly stylized
version of the old-school Spanish look. We asked him to speak to us about his
origins but he was unable to comment – he could only gesture wildly.