Students upset Penn State amputated toe on paw logo

Penn State -- Sweatshirts, magnets and T-shirts bearing the Nittany Lion paw are causing a lot of confusion on campus.

The paw print logo is one of Penn States dearest icons, but inconsistency in its design has divided the university. On game days, students are seen wearing both a five-toed and four-toed paw on their chests.

Some students are worried as to what illness caused the lion to have a toe amputated, while others are rejoicing because the anatomically incorrect thumb has been removed.

Confusion as to which paw is the official logo has led a group of students to speak out.

"Keep Five Alive" is a Facebook group trying to preserve the five-toed paw, said Michelle Bense, creator of the group. The group started with Bense, her boyfriend and a few friends, and has grown to have more than 150 members as of Wednesday.

Bense and her friends created the group with the idea they could change the icon back to the five-toed paw, but they soon realized the decision had already been made to replace it.

In 2006 the paw print was changed from five toes to four because it was anatomically incorrect and then was gradually introduced on merchandise, said Jeff Hermann, university editor and director of publications.

"This is now known as the official paw print of the university," he said.

The five-toed paw print is so last season, literally. All Penn State merchandise now has the four-toed paw print, though the five-toed paw can still be seen on old T-shirts, Hermann said.

Though the Facebook group couldn't stop the university from changing the paw, it is still trying to "keep five alive" by wearing older merchandise with the logo and refusing to buy anything with the four-toed paw on it.

"We really don't like the new paw," Bense said. "No other university has five toes on their paw. I think it represents us because it's unique and no one else can have that."

The new paw is still special to Penn State and has been met with a lot of enthusiasm, Hermann said.

"Hundreds and hundreds of schools have four-toed paw prints," he said. "The idea was to come up with something that we could call special and would be only Penn State and also anatomically correct."

An actual mountain lion footprint was used for the toes and then the heel was removed and replaced with a new design based on the Intercollegiate Athletics logo of the Nittany Lion, Hermann said.

The paw has been changed twice since 1988, each time to add or subtract a toe.

Penn State's original icon was a four-toed paw print. In the 1988 Capital One Bowl, the Nittany Lions took on the Clemson Tigers and realized they had the same symbol, Hermann said.

After that, the university supposedly made a legal agreement to change the paw, and added a toe to separate Penn State from other teams, he said.

The University Licensing Committee started looking into the matter and found there wasn't any legal agreement, he said. They began developing "a proper four-toed paw print," which is now Penn State's official logo, Hermann said.

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