Following an 1891 Big Game win over Cal, the cardinal color was picked as the primary color of Stanford's athletic teams. In 1930, the athletic department adopted the mascot "Indians." The Indian symbol and name were later dropped, in 1972, to a request of Native American students.
During the 1970s, a number of alternatives were suggested for a school mascot but none caught on. In 1981, school President Donald Kennedy decided to accept Stanford Cardinal as the official (and exclusive) symbol for Stanford's athletic teams.