College Mascot Draws Boos, Laughs

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The College of William and Mary has had some trouble securing a college mascot. Because the sports teams calls themselves the Tribe, the mascots have long been Native American-themed. But, owing to NCAA rulings and public pressure to downplay the racial overtones, William and Mary dropped the "Indian," a previous mascot. The replacement, Ebirt (that's Tribe spelled backwards) was an amorphous and unpopular frog-like creature that eventually disappeared. Now, after several years of going without one, the nation's second-oldest college has unveiled its new mascot: The Griffin. With no apparent ties to William and Mary history and a mock-up that looks remarkably pantsless, the Griffin could face some hardships of its own. Here's the awkward-looking unveiling ceremony and what critics are saying (update below: Jon Stewart piles on):

  • 'Pantless Man-Bird To Lead William and Mary Into Battle'  Deadspin's Dashiell Bennett calls it "Part bird, part lion, all WTF?" Bennet has many questions. "Is he naked? Are those supposed to be ears? ... Why is he so angry? And why is he looking into my soul?"
  • The Harry Potter-Friendly History  W&M alum blogger Rob muses, "Yes, it has an eagle's head and a lion's body, symbolizing the College's historical debt to both the United States and Great Britain. And sure, it'll play well with the Harry Potter demo. But how do we explain this to our children? How do I look into my daughter's perplexed eyes and answer her question: 'Why does it have a naked man's legs and a tail?' Why, indeed, sweetheart?"
  • How They Picked It  The Washington Post's Jenna Johnson reports, "Last year [College President] Reveley appointed a mascot committee made up of alumni, students, faculty and staff to find a mascot that could be a unifying, fun figure on campus, but still looked good on T-shirts and costumes. Five finalists were announced in December: the griffin, the king and queen, the phoenix, a pug and a wren. Then the public had a chance to voice their opinions. More than 11,000 people completed a mascot survey and the committee reviewed more than 22,000 mascot comments. And a mascot Web site received more than 47,500 visitors."
  • Whatever, At Least We Finally Decided  Campus newspaper The Flat Hat sighs, "The mascot search is finally over, and we can probably all agree: thank god it’s not the Pug. ... We have to say: we like it — although we’re mostly just happy that the long and arduous search is finally over." They predict, "after the unavoidable knee-jerk reactionism has died down, the Griffin will prove a decent-enough choice for the College"
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