Prepare to cheer on the Griffin. The College of William and Mary Mascot Committee released its ultimate decision today in a public showcase in Kaplan Arena at William and Mary Hall that featured student and faculty speakers, a video on the selections process and the Griffin’s first public appearance — costume included.
The Griffin is a mythical creature with a lion’s body and an eagle’s head.
“Generally when you think of a mascot, you want something that is somewhat representative of the school,” Athletic Director Terry Driscoll said.
Driscoll added that he felt the Griffin represents qualities demonstrated by College athletes: strength, represented by the lion, and intelligence, represented by the eagle.
“[The mascot] says a lot about how we feel about our athletic teams,” he said. “Our athletes go to school in a tough academic environment and still perform on the field.”
Despite the new mascot, Driscoll said the College would retain use of the nickname Tribe to refer to its athletics.
“Our single biggest concern is there are still people who assume we will be changing the nickname to [the Griffins],” he said. “This is not the case.”
To avoid confusion, Driscoll said all images of the Griffin would explicitly say Tribe for 12 to 14 months.
“After people understand [Tribe will remain the nickname] we can move on to other images,” he said.
Student Assembly President and Mascot Committee member Sarah Rojas ’10 said that the additional symbolism that tied the Griffin to the College’s history made it a suitable choice.
The lion was traditionally used as a symbol of England, and was incorporated into King William and Queen Mary’s royal coat of arms. The eagle, Rojas said, furthered these ties to the Colonial time period.
“William and Mary champions itself as the alma mater of a nation. Little things like [these historic ties] really connect the Griffin to the school,” she said.
The Griffin was picked after a lengthy selection process that lasted 16 months, including a three-month submission period that resulted in 800 mascot submissions from students, alumni, faculty and other community members.
A committee of students, faculty, administration, alumni and coaches was created to manage the selection, originally presumed to take 10 months. The College had hoped to unveil the new mascot for the 2009 Homecoming in October.
The process proved to be more time consuming than originally expected.
A list of five finalists, which also included a pug, a wren, a king and queen and a phoenix, was released in December.
A public survey to gauge reaction to the five choices received approximately 11,000 responses, according to Driscoll. In total, however, the mascot committee received over 22,000 comments on the finalists.
“I think that one thing that was really great about this process was that it was so inclusive — every single comment was read through,” Rojas said. “This was definitely a community decision that we hoped everyone would be happy with and one that our school would really be able to rally behind — especially after such successful football and basketball seasons.”
Rojas said public response to the finalists was equally positive, with one exception.
“Generally what we heard back was ‘no to the pug,’” she said. “There may have been five positive comments about the pug.”
Driscoll said the comments showed important trends that helped the committee make its decision.
“What we saw from this is that comments people made [were] about what are important mascot attributes,” he said. “We began to look at the attributes people want in their mascot and what [mascot choice] had best opportunities to show them.”
According to Driscoll, the ideal mascot would be one that showed strength and power, but could be friendly.
“If this concept was going to be representing the team, it had to be something you’d want to see on the football field,” he said.
In February, the committee released its decision to endorse the Griffin to Reveley, who would make the ultimate decision.
“I was predisposed to go along with the committee, as they spent such an enormous amount of time on [the decision],” Reveley said. “[But] I really wanted to understand it completely and be sure that the [mascot’s] rationale made sense in the context of William and Mary.”
While ultimately he said he grew to appreciate the rationale for the Griffin as the process continued, Reveley said he was originally unsatisfied with the implementation for future branding purposes.
“I didn’t think it had enough zip to it from my perspective,” he said. “I wanted more action in the design.”
Reveley said he wanted to ensure that the Griffin’s feathers were featured more prominently in the design that would be used on t-shirts, posters and in media. He further directed the committee to explore the potential for the mascot to display a “No. 1” finger.
Reveley sent the original sketch back to the committee, which then worked with Torch Creative to redesign it. The final result, he said, ultimately satisfied him.
“In a nutshell, I’m enthusiastic about the mascot choice,” Reveley wrote in an e-mail. “I really believe the new mascot is going to grow on people quickly.”
The video shown in today’s presentation may be viewed at www.wm.edu/mascot