The nickname "Big Red" for Cornell athletic teams originated in 1905. The late Romeyn Berry (class of 1904) was writing the lyrics for a new football song as part of a school-wide competition. Since Cornell had no nickname at the time, Berry simply referred to Cornell as "the big, red team" in his song lyrics. Eventually, the "big, red team" nickname caught on among the student body and soon became shortened to the "Big Red" as the official name of Cornell Athletics. (The Cornell colors of Red and White were actually established on the University's Inauguration Day on October 7, 1868.) Above, the October 21, 2005 issue of the Cornell Daily Sun announces Berry's submission as the winner of the football song contest.
The first reference to the nickname "Big Red" in basketball competition by the Cornell Daily Sun appeared in the January 6, 1921 issue. The Sun referred to the squad as the "Big Red five" in the newspaper's recap of the season opening game at Case Western Reserve in which Cornell prevailed in Cleveland, 33-22 on December 31.