Explained: Why doesn't the university have a mascot?

BY NICOLE WATKINS

Published December 5, 2007

There's a rich history of support and fanaticism during sporting events at the University, but there is something missing from the mix.

While the performance of many athletic teams from numerous schools in collegiate athletics is enhanced by the energetic performance of a larger than life, plush caricature of their school's mascot, Michigan sports teams are fueled by University students, cheerleaders and band.

This begs one important question: Why isn't there a mascot here at the University?

Athletic Department spokesman Bruce Madej said it all comes down to following University tradition.

"There is no appetite within the athletic department from administrators and/or student athletes to have one," Madej said. "So I would believe the tradition of not having a mascot would likely win out."

According to an article on the Bentley Historical Library's website, "The Athletic Department has steadfastly maintained that such a symbol is unnecessary and undignified and would not properly reflect the spirit and values of Michigan athletics."

But that doesn't mean that the University has never had a mascot.

In 1927, as a result of much lobbying by former Michigan football coach Fielding H. Yost, two wolverines - animals, not athletes - from the Detroit Zoo were carried around Michigan Stadium in cages on game days.

Eventually, Madej said, one wolverine was kept as a live mascot until it became impossible to keep him in captivity because he repeatedly chewed through the bars of his cage.

Madej said Michigan did actually use a Wolverine mascot - this time a plush one.

The mascot performed during the mid 1980s and then again during the mid 1990s before being retired.

But the attempts failed, Madej said, because many people thought the plush mascot looked more like a mangy dog or fox than an actual wolverine.