LSU Colors: Purple and Gold a Proud Tradition Since 1893

January 01, 2023

Cheerleaders running with LSU flags


For LSU students and alumni, the colors purple and gold have forever wakened in their hearts a tender glow. But if one of the university's early leaders had his way, Tiger fans today might be cheering on the blue and white.

LSU professor and first football coach Charles Coates gave this account in a letter to the LSU Alumni News in 1937:

When Col. David F. Boyd, who was head of LSU from 1865 to 1880 and again from 1884 to 1886, returned to the university a few years after his last term, he was surprised to find purple and gold as LSU's colors, considering that he distinctly remembered designating blue and white as the colors many years earlier. 

In Boyd's absence, Coates and some of his players had gone out in search of ribbon to brighten up their 1893 fall football game against a team of New Orleans players. No one in the group knew of any LSU team colors, so finding a large supply of Mardi Gras ribbons at a local store, they bought out the stock. However, the green ribbons had not yet been delivered to the store, leaving purple and gold to serve as LSU's colors.

While that story is recounted fondly, there might just be more to the story.

Other reports say purple and gold were worn for the first time by an LSU team in the spring of 1893, when the LSU baseball squad beat Tulane in the first intercollegiate contest played in any sport by LSU. Team captain E.B. Young reportedly hand-picked those colors for the LSU squad.

Despite the discrepancy, there's one thing we know for sure: The colors (technically Royal Purple and Old Gold) stuck and have been proudly displayed by the LSU faithful ever since.