With the recent news that Indiana University is reviving the old Bison mascot for the College of Arts and Sciences, I thought that it would be interesting to research the history of mascots at IU. For the longest time Indiana University has been known as the Hoosiers, but what has represented the Hoosiers has long been a point of contention as no mascot has really been long-standing for IU. The early part of the 20th century saw the adoption or, the attempt of adoption, of a variety of mascots including an owl (1906), a raccoon (1909), and a goat along with a skunk (1923). My personal favorites were the toddler of an athletic trainer “Bernie” Bernstein in 1912 and “Jim Watson,” a golden eagle that was rescued by the University after being shot in the spring of 1916 (he would later be released in the fall).
The longest-standing IU mascot was none other than the Bison. The Bison first made an appearance in 1965 after being chosen by the IU student senate and was inspired by the bison on the Indiana seal. It was around this time that Nick’s English Hut also chose the Bison for their logo. The Indiana University Bison would be discontinued in 1969 although it would survive as Nick’s logo to this day. At the time of appointing the Bison to be the mascot it was hoped that eventually, the University would be able to get a live Bison to run around the field before games, but this was sadly economically unfeasible. The Bison would be discontinued because of its poor design; students wouldn’t want to wear it as it offered poor visibility (cheerleaders had to lead it around on a leash because the eye holes were so bad), held a lot of heat, was generally uncomfortable to wear and had a lack of arms. Additionally, the Bison is something straight from nightmares, it was ugly, to say the least.
In 1979, another attempt at a mascot for Indiana University was made this time in the form of “Mr. Hoosier Pride.” Mr. Hoosier Pride was a red-bearded cowboy who only lasted a single football season because he was “ridiculous and offensive.” To this day, Indiana University has a distinct lack of mascots, something quite peculiar for a large public university. We are simply known as the Indiana Hoosiers.
Authored by Corey Jones