Mascot still in the works

By The Beacon | October 24, 2007 9:00pm

Athletic Department seeks design ideas from ?the student body

By Dannielle Lowe

The University just began the public phase of the search for a mascot worthy of wearing the purple "P" and it wants student input. According to Athletic Marketing Director Tricia Miller, the search for the new mascot is the second phase in the University's re-branding attempts.

Last year, the University updated the Pilots logo and Nike designed the present-day "P." But the students will be the ones helping with the new design for the mascot. The Athletic Marketing Department and ASUP are working together in hopes of gaining student input.

The public phase of the search just began, calling on students to submit their mascot designs and ideas. The search has been designed as a sort of contest, but it's not being called that because there is no prize and the winning design may be slightly altered.

"We're not totally making it a contest because we may take bits and pieces from a couple designs or the designer may alter the design so it can be replicated," Miller said.

The target date for the debut of the new mascot is Jan. 19 for the men's basketball opener. In order for the date to be met, there are series of steps that must take place.

First, students will turn in designs and ideas through Monday. Following the submittal phase, a committee made up of alumni, staff, coaches, athletes and administrators will select four designs that will then be put forward for student voting.

Once the four designs have been chosen, the choice becomes the student body's. The students will vote on which design they like best and the new mascot will be sent to a graphic designer who will make the design replicable.

Next, the final design will be sent to Alinco Costumes, who will produce the mascot costume, which should take roughly eight weeks.

The schedule is completely tentative and may fluctuate depending on how efficiently the different phases are completed. The budget for the process is around $4,000 and will most likely be covered by ASUP, Miller said.

This is not the first UP mascot design request. In fact students designed and voted on the former mascot Wally the Pilot. But many who remember the huge head figure will attest to his lack of flare.

"I came the year after Wally died, but I remember him," junior Annie Speight said. "He was a no bueno mascot."

In 2005, the University had agreed with students in deciding Wally had reached his shelf life and made the decision to eliminate the character. Upon his departure, there wasn't a lot of uproar, according to Miller. But over the years the cry and desire for a new mascot has grown in intensity.

"The students don't specifically miss Wally, but they do say they really miss having a character," Miller said. "We kept hearing more and more from the student body. They want a mascot again."

The search for the new mascot has been an ongoing activity. Before the public announcement of the search, there were many backroom discussions between the athletic marketing group, ASUP and the administration. Ultimately, all the parties involved believe the students should get the final say.

Hence the search for student input. According to Miller, the ideal situation would be for students to embrace the democratic opportunity and contribute their ideas.

"We really want the students to decide," Miller said. "We want to be able to say, here's what we have, give us a vote."

According to Miller, ideas do not have to resemble Wally or even a pilot. In fact, ideas have included a salmon and a walrus. Each student has an idea of what he would like the new character to be.

"I wasn't here when we had Wally, but I think we should have a female purple pirate," senior Brandon Howard said.

Whatever shape or form the mascot takes, UP will still be the Pilots. The figure students cheer behind will simply be different.