As the search for a new mascot continues, gargoyles may make their way from Bradley Hall to the basketball court.
The mascot branding committee, made up of students and various department members across campus, hosted seven focus group sessions Sept. 19 and 20. The sessions, open to students, faculty, staff and alumni, discussed plans for mascot artwork, followed by a short survey on potential designs.
The main purpose of the focus groups was to get feedback on costume designs, said Director of Athletics Michael Cross, which would be the mascot at athletic games and other events across campus.
“I think the initial response was open-minded,” Cross said. “The responses were generally positive.”
If chosen, Cross said Bradley would be the only Division 1 school with a gargoyle mascot. The other school with a gargoyle mascot is Division 2 Flagler College in Florida.
The gargoyle designs were modeled after “The Thinker,” one of the gargoyles on the Hayden-Clark Alumni Center.
During the summer, the branding committee teamed up with Joe Bosnack Graphic Design Co. to brainstorm a costumed gargoyle mascot. At the focus group sessions, Cross showed four different images the committee and company created.
The designs featured two slightly different gargoyles – one with a friendlier face, muscular body and light stone color, and the other with a more fierce face, less muscles and a darker stone color.
For each gargoyle, there were two separate choices of clothing, with either a red shirt and shorts or a white shirt and red shorts. Cross said the clothing could change based on different campus events.
Cross said the popularity for a gargoyle mascot was carefully measured over the past year. The branding committee wanted to unify the new “B” shield logo with both the Braves nickname and a new mascot.
The branding campaign started with a campus-wide survey last semester. More than 3,700 people participated in the survey, which offered the choices of a gargoyle, lion, eagle, open-ended option or nothing at all to become the university mascot. Cross said almost two-thirds of those surveyed wanted a new mascot, and the gargoyle option was the leading mascot choice, with more than a third of the votes.
The Braves nickname will not change at all, Cross said. He said the overwhelming majority of those surveyed wanted to retain the nickname, despite the fact that Bradley can no longer use a Native American as the mascot.
With data from the focus groups, the costume design is still not finalized, Cross said. Even if the groups show support for the gargoyle, Cross said the conclusion of the project will be early February at the earliest, because it takes 14 to 16 weeks to design.
“It will take longer if we [produce] apparel with the costume unless it is comfortably syncing with the costume process,” he said.
The decision to go forward with the gargoyle costume, however, remains to be seen, Cross said.
“I think people, regardless if they’re in favor or not sure if they’re in favor or opposed to the design, should view this as an opportunity and remain open-minded throughout the process,” he said. “Everyone involved is looking for the best interest of the university.”
There may be some concern as to how the nickname “Braves” and a gargoyle mascot will mesh. But Bradley wouldn’t be the first university to have a different mascot for its nickname.
- University of North Carolina Tar Heels
The nickname Tar Heels was a derogatory term for the natural inhabitants of North Carolina. The university now uses a ram as its mascot.
- University of Alabama Crimson Tide
The Crimson Tide was popularized by a Birmingham newspaper sports editor describing the football team’s defense in a muddy game against Auburn. Today, its mascot is an elephant.
- Iowa State University Cyclones
Technically, Iowa State’s mascot is named after a cyclone. But since it was too difficult to construct a natural disaster-shaped costume, Cy the Cardinal was born in 1954.
- Delta State University Statesmen
DSU’s nickname was coined in honor of a former Mississippi state representative. Because many students felt that Statesmen (or Lady Statesmen, for the women’s teams) weren’t intimidating enough, the university has an okra for its mascot. The okra wears boxing gloves.
- Western Kentucky University Hilltoppers
Similar to Bradley’s location on a hill, WKU adopted the Hilltoppers as its nickname. Its mascot, however, is a furry red blob named Big Red. Big Red’s head is supposed to be shaped like the hill.