Will IU Tackle the Longstanding Mascot Question?


More of a light-hearted story here about a state school, but as an IU grad, I’d like to weigh in on the IU mascot debate featured in today’s Indy Star. Personally, I think we definitely need a mascot, and I’ve long been jealous of the Boilers’ "Purdue Pete" (the old/new one, not the stuffed pillow they had for about 20 minutes a couple of months ago), which I think is one of the top mascots in the country. Since my time at IU, I’ve advocated (among friends) the development of "Harry the Hoosier Hog." Just a giant State Fair-quality pig to run mosey on out with the football team during games, and then maybe a student in a hog costume during the hoops season. What’s not to like about hogs? They’re sometimes cute, often aggressive, and always delicious.

That said, I do think the bison idea in the article has merit. The animal is on the state seal, and while we no longer have them here, bison remain a part of our history. The Star reports:

In the late 1960s, IU had a bison as its mascot. In 1979, IU had someone named "Hoosier Pride," a hick-looking person with a large head and a crimson cowboy hat. Apparently, though, that one didn’t pass the politically correct test and was quickly abandoned.

Since then, however, nothing.

"I think you should have a contest, get the university students involved and let them draw up something," Gearries said. "Let’s have a name contest, let’s have a drawing contest, and when we finally get it down to two or three finalists, we can let the students vote on it."

Valerie Gill, IU’s director of licensing and trademarks, said nothing is currently in the works.

Glass said any decision on a mascot would need to be made at the university level.

"Ultimately that’s a university decision, and my belief is that if it bubbles up, it will be more of a grass-roots effort from the students and fans," Glass said.

Most of the mascots in the Big Ten date to the 1950s, though their role has significantly expanded from an extension of the cheerleading squad over the decades.

Minnesota assistant athletic director Scott Ellison said its mascot, Goldy, made 572 appearances last year, roughly 300 of them outside athletic and other school events, including birthday parties and weddings. Goldy can make as many seven appearances in a day and is a revenue source for the school.

"(A mascot) is an ambassador for the university," Ellison said. "It’s one of our brands. It’s very visible and very much the face of not only the athletics department, but also the university."

4 thoughts on “Will IU Tackle the Longstanding Mascot Question?

  1. There’s only one clear and reasonable solution to the mascot issue — the long overdue return to the Bison, the one and only mascot that went with the Hoosiers to our sole Rose Bowl appearance. Hoosiers and Bison-Americans have long enjoyed a cordial and benevolent relationship, as witnessed on one of our most important symbols – the Great Seal of the State of Indiana. There’s no need to look for some new character to represent our greatest university; let’s just return to the trusted and loyal Bison.

  2. If your interested in following ongoing developments in the IU mascot discussion and my active defense against anti-bisonism, please follow me on twitter at @SteveTheIUBison.

  3. Thanks for your input, Steve. I admire your passion, and may your pelt forever remain on your body.

  4. I have thought long and hard about this topic and I think the bison should make a comeback, BUT only at football games. I think our basketball program has enough history and prestige without a mascot and it should stay that way. I think seeing the bison at football games would be another little draw to younger fans. The football program really needs to build that fan base whereas the basketball program already has it built in.

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