Indiana University Mascot or leave alone?

Chicago Tribune reports:

BLOOMINGTON, Ind.— An Indianapolis businessman wants Indiana University to get what the state’s other major universities have: a mascot.

Jim Gearries wants IU to have a contest to come up with suggestions for a mascot and then have students vote for a winner. But don’t expect to see a new face on the sidelines this fall.

IU officials tell The Indianapolis Star that the decision has to be made at the university level and that there’s no move to create a mascot.

IU had a bison as its mascot in the late 1960s and introduced a mascot named “Hoosier Pride” in 1979. But that mascot didn’t go over well with fans and was quickly abandoned.

Gearries said IU needs a mascot that depicts a Hoosier, and he scoffs at suggestions that it’s hard to capture what a Hoosier is.

Gearries envisions an IU mascot wearing blue jeans and suspenders, carrying a peach basket with a basketball and a corncob pipe who would be called Hurryin’ Hoosier Harry.

“He can look like a hillbilly, a hick, but basketball is the bottom line,” Gearries said. “When you think of hicks, you think of country boys that are out in the backyard shooting baskets. Even if it’s a peach basket on the side of a barn.”

Athletics director Fred Glass said he’s received many suggestions about a mascot in the past, including some to bring back the bison. He notes that mascots don’t have to match the university’s nickname. Purdue has its iconic Purdue Pete, Georgetown’s Hoyas have a bulldog, and North Carolina has a ram despite the school’s nickname as the Tar Heels.

Many fans say IU shouldn’t revert to the bison.

Chris Rowe, a 1996 IU graduate who lives in New Albany, thinks using a bison is ridiculous.

“This is not Wyoming, and there are no bison crossing signs on I-65,” Rowe said. “A whitetail deer is far more native to Indiana, and before you go there, don’t. That’s a dumb idea as well. As for the state symbol, there is a guy with an ax chopping wood as well, so does that mean our mascot could be Paul Bunyan in candy-striped overalls? We need to get serious here.”

Gearries agreed.

“We’re not the Indiana Bison. We’re the Indiana Hoosiers. You might as well just make it a giraffe. The Indiana Giraffes. What’s the big difference between a bison (and) a giraffe?”

Jack Gilbert, a 1953 IU graduate who lives in Tucson, Ariz., said a bison would be better than a bumpkin.

“That bumpkin look has never worked well anywhere, nor has it lasted. I think the bison is fine,” he said.

Dee Knight of Franklin said she thinks IU’s done fine without a mascot and sees no need to change.

“I guess I’m just old school. I’m happy with the way things are.”

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