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Nickname "Gauchos"

The Fantom The University has used the Argentine cowboy as a nickname since 1936 when, inspired by Douglas Fairbanks’s performance in the 1927 film The Gaucho, the female student population led a vote to change the mascot from the original Roadrunners.

By the late 1980s, students began fully embracing the gaucho name while attending standing-room-only basketball games swinging blue-and-gold boleadoras over their heads to rally the team; these were foam and yarn representations of the rock-hard leather balls that gauchos tied to a cord and used as weapons to hunt rheas, a flightless South American ostrich-like bird.

Meanwhile, “Gaucho Joe” became famous for psyching up basketball crowds in the 1980s by running around the Thunderdome in white jeans and a Batman muscle T-shirt, yelling like crazy. In the 1990’s Aaron Bishop fired up crowds and embarrassed referees with uniquely energetic skits, crowd-pleasing chants, and the occasional rubber chicken, as the legendary “Fantom of the
(Thunder) Dome.”

In the mid-1990s, Gaucho basketball fans became nationally notorious for chucking tortillas onto the court at televised games. The tortilla barrages often stopped play and resulted in technical foul calls against the Gauchos. Coaches could occasionally be seen begging the crowd to stop and even helping with cleanup. The practice peaked in February 1997 when the Gauchos took on University of the Pacific in a game that was televised on ESPN. The rowdy fans throughout the game threw tortillas where the Gauchos head coach was eventually ejected. While the athletics department prohibits tortilla chucking at basketball games, the tradition is celebrated today at soccer matches – only after goals – and never during play or directed at fans or opposing players (this act can lead to an ejection, penalty on the home team and a possible end of the tradition). The only after Gaucho goals tortillas tradition is part of a great game-day atmosphere.

Freelance writer Paul Rivas wrote about the Gaucho myths, legend and UCSB connection in an article for the Santa Barbara Independent here.


The longtime logo of a blue silhouette of a horseman swinging boleadoras was phased out in the 1990s with the introduction of the several variations to today’s logo: a wide-brimmed hat and Zorro-like mask gaucho with piercing eyes. The wearing of a mask pays tribute to the Fantom of the Dome and also maintains the mystery of the Gaucho. Current revisions aimed at a consistent branding identity features a primary and two secondary logos. The primary mark utilizes the academic strength of the University of California with “UCSB” under an intimating and mysterious Gaucho. All teams display the trademarked UCSB font (trademarked as Gaucho font) on uniforms.

Three secondary logos continue the Gaucho’s mystery by using a solo hat as a form of calling card (think Zorro’s famous Z). First is the solo hat in motion or often referred to as the “magic hat”. Second is a “Santa Barbara” logo representing the area’s natural riches, intriguing past and exceptional beauty. Third is the wordmark “Gauchos.” Both the Santa Barbara and Gauchos logos have the calling card hat featured.

Primary Mark 'Santa Barbara' logo 'Gauchos' logo The Magic Hat