When Northeast Mississippi Community College was founded in 1948, Bonner Arnold served as physical education instructor, men’s and women's basketball coach and athletic director.
Arnold and legendary University of Kentucky men’s basketball coach Adolph Rupp were friends. As a result of this friendship and the success of the Wildcats basketball program, Arnold wanted the Northeast's athletic teams to sport a similar nickname.
Therefore, “Fighting Tigers” was adopted as the school’s mascot.
Later, Northeast's athletic program grew to include men’s and women’s varsity sports. “Fighting” was dropped and the teams became known as the “Tigers” and “Lady Tigers.”