It is reported by Vincent Cyril Dore, O.P., who played in the earliest of Providence College athletics contests, that PC men were called "Cardinals," but there is no official record or reference in newspaper clippings. There are references, however, to the nickname "Dominicans" as a sobriquet for PC athletes after the use of "Cardinals." "Black and White" and "White and Black" were generally accepted epithets as well. "Friars" first appeared in an April 9, 1929 Providence Journal sports story prior to the start of the 1929 baseball season and a game against Northeastern University.
The earlier nicknames, along with other informal references (Smith Hillers, North End boys, etc.), continued to be used until the Fall of 1932 when "Friars" became more officially accepted and recognized as the one true cognomen for Providence College.
Friars, of course, was the word describing the members of the mendicant orders founded in the 13th century. Most of the members were priests engaged in a direct apostolate to the faithful. The Friars possessed greater mobility than other orders in that they were not confined to a single monastery or abbey.
It is surmised that the cognomen and reference to PC athletes as "Friars" came from an on-campus service club formed by John E. Farrell '26 called the Friars Club. Farrell was the Graduate Manager of Athletics at the College, who travelled with the baseball team to Dartmouth and learned of a service organization called the Green Key Society, which met and assisted visiting athletic teams. With the help of College president Reverend Lorenzo McCarthy, O.P. a similar club was formed at Providence College. Farrell reasoned that since the College was under the jurisdiction of the Order of Friar Preachers, the nickname was a natural.