Furman University's official athletic mascot is a knight on a horse and the school's intercollegiate athletic teams are nicknamed "Paladins." Prior to 1961 this was not the case as the baseball team was known as the "Hornets," the football team the "Hurricane," and the basketball team the "Paladins." First used by a Greenville sportswriter in the 1930s to describe Furman's basketball team, "Paladins" became the official nickname of all of the school's intercollegiate athletic teams following a vote of the student body on September 15, 1961.
A "Paladin" is defined in the American Heritage College Dictionary as a "paragon of chivalry; a heroic champion; a strong supporter or defender of a cause; and any of the 12 peers of French emperor Charlemagne's court." While the same dictionary does not specifically describe a knight as a Paladin or vice-versa, the knight's definition of "a defender, champion, or zealous upholder of a cause or principle" closely resembles the aforementioned definition of a Paladin.
While history reveals that knights and Paladins were not always mounted men-at-arms, the modern image of a knight has no doubt played a role in the development of Furman's mascot as a knight on a horse.
The horse that currently serves as Furman's mount is Fury, owned by Dave Hanson, of Atlanta, Ga.