In a conference with Brutus Buckeye, Bucky Badger and plenty of furry faces, IU still lacks a recognizable mascot. In fact, it does not have one at all.
Out of the 14 universities in the Big Ten conference, IU joins Illinois and Michigan as one of only three schools that do not sport a mascot. Every other school, whether it be a live animal or an extremely energetic student in a costume, has one.
This has not always been the case for Indiana. Realistically, it has have attempted numerous ideas to symbolize a Hoosier.
In the early 1900s, Indiana had mascots such as an owl and a raccoon. In 1912, it was the toddler son of a former athletic trainer. That was followed by a bald eagle and a goat, thought of by the Indiana Daily Student, class of 1923, according to the IU website.
After giving a bulldog and a border collie a shot in the middle of the 20th century, the university could not find one that stuck. Despite many failed attempts, IU continued on the search for its Hoosier mascot.
Finally, in 1965, a unanimous decision by the student senate named the bison the official mascot of the Indiana Hoosiers. Influenced by the Indiana state seal, the school felt like the bison was the appropriate choice.
Students campaigned to have a live bison run around the recently created Memorial Stadium during football games. Due to a high price the state did not want to pay, that idea was crossed out quickly.
The first attempt of a bison costume seemed to be a rough draft, as it lacked holes for arms and did not include hind legs. It was a pain for the student to wear, so after four long years, they switched to plan B.
According to a 1969 IDS article, the school approached Walt Disney for assistance on creating a bison costume. Disney was busy at the time, but he suggested reaching out to a Los Angeles firm that brought many of his movie characters to life. They responded with the newest bison design.
The firm’s costume was put into action for a year, but students encountered problems once again. This time, there was trouble breathing and horrible vision from the inside. After this, the idea of a bison mascot joined the physical costume in the dumpster.
After a decade of mascot-less athletics, IU picked the route of a human mascot, tagged as Mr. Hoosier Pride. He would have a red beard and cowboy hat, almost looking like a little brother of Oklahoma State’s mascot, Sooner State. After eliminating the popular bison, the new mascot was the center of conversation across campus for the wrong reasons.
“Mr. Hoosier Pride is the most asinine and ridiculous-looking character anyone could have ever dreamed up to be IU’s mascot,” IU student Ben Blair said in a 1979 IDS letter to the editor.
Mr. Hoosier Pride was cut at the end of the school year, marking the last time IU has had an official mascot. Now, 40 years later, IU runs into the same problem that it has dealt with from the beginning: trying to find the right one.
Will IU ever bring back the bison, or maybe even try a new costume? Or will the university continue to be the mascot-less Hoosiers? Who knows. We’ll have to wait and see.
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