Time is running out to join the ranks of Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe and make a mark in the College of William and Mary’s long history.
The College’s mascot search committee’s three-month submission period will end in less than three weeks, on June 30. The committee has been accepting mascot concepts from the public since April 1.
As of June 5, the committee had received 270 submissions, over half of which were submitted by alumni. Current students compose nearly 30 percent of the submissions and faculty and staff’s ideas make up 10 percent of the pool of potential mascots. Eight percent of the submitted concepts come from parents or other parties.
Ideas have included several birds, animals, mythical creatures and sea inhabitants, including whales and the “tribe of the ocean.” Other mascot concepts embody the College’s colonial history, such as the founding fathers or the William and Mary Green Coats. There have also been three food mascot submissions.
College President Taylor Reveley created the committee in early 2009 to find a new mascot for the College. The committee, chaired by Director of Athletics Terry Driscoll, is composed of fifteen members associated with the College, including two members of the Class of 2009, several alumni, athletic coaches, professors, and newly appointed Vice President for Student Affairs Virginia Ambler ’88 Ph.D. ’06.
“It is critical for this to be as open a process as it can be,” Driscoll said. “We want to come to a general consensus. In a process like this, no matter what somebody is not going to like the [final] idea, but we want a significant number of people to think it’s appropriate.”
William and Mary has been without a mascot since the College’s unofficial mascot, Colonial Ebirt, a furry, green creature wearing a tri-cornered hat, retired at the end of the 2005 academic year. The College’s school spirit suffered a previous blow when the NCAA refused the College’s appeal to keep the feathers on the College’s emblem in early 2006. The NCAA had placed the College on a list of universities whose mascot or symbols were deemed offensive due to American Indian imagery.
To keep the College community updated, the committee keeps a frequently updated blog, which details the search process. About once each week, the committee posts a small piece of a submitted mascot idea under a blog post titled “Can you see me now?” So far three mascot ideas have been revealed: Jack the Jester, a Wren, and a Friesian Horse. Not many other specific details of submissions have been released.
The search committee established several rules to guide those wishing to submit mascot ideas. Submissions will not be considered if they overlap with any of the other 11 mascots in the CAA, which include a lion, a bulldog and a tiger. Also, the mascot concepts should lend themselves to a costume and should utilize the College’s colors of green, gold, and silver. According to the committee’s blog, at least 25 submissions have been eliminated because they did not adhere to the guidelines.
Students at the College have taken to Facebook to voice their opinions, creating groups in support of various mascots including the phoenix and Bricky the Brick. There is also a group of students calling for Colonel Ebirt’s return as the College’s mascot, but according to the retired mascot’s blog, he is happily enjoying his retirement with no plans to return.
Driscoll said that the committee had already begun contracting a design company, which would elaborate on a handful of mascot ideas before the committee reveals the concepts to the College community. Though no exact dates have been set, the committee has released a tentative timeline and plans to reveal three to five mascot ideas to the College community for feedback between September and November.
The committee then hopes to present a finalized idea to Reveley in early December and, with the president’s approval, reveal the new mascot.
“My hope is that the mascot, once chosen and unleashed,” Reveley said in an e-mail, “will be quickly embraced by the William and Mary community, on campus and off, becoming a unifying, fun symbol of [the College].”
Submissions are accepted through the mail as well as online on the committee’s website.