What Is the History of the Syracuse University Mascot?


Quick Answer

Syracuse University's mascot, Otto the Orange, first appeared in 1980 and became official in 1995. The mascot's design and first costume was created by Eric Heath, a cheerleader at the school. It was known as "The Orange" until 1990, when the university cheerleaders chose Otto as the name.

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Full Answer

Syracuse's first mascot was a goat named Vita, who appeared at games during the 1920s. Its next mascot was a Native American figure known as Big Chief Bill Orange, or the Saltine Warrior. The Saltine Warrior first appeared as a hoax in a 1931 edition of The Syracuse Orange Peel, which stated that his remains were found near Steele Hall. Lambda Chi fraternity members began to wear a Saltine Warrior costume at games in the 1950s.

In 1978, Syracuse stopped using the Saltine Warrior as a mascot after students protested its stereotypical portrayal of Native Americans. The school attempted to introduce a Roman gladiator mascot, but it was booed off the field. Other mascot attempts included Egnaro the Troll, a man in an orange tuxedo, a figure that resembled Superman and the Orange.

The Orange gained popularity after its first appearance but remained unofficial until 1995. That year, an 18-member committee was formed to choose a mascot from a lion, a wolf and the Orange. The committee recommended the wolf, but students preferred the Orange. In December 1995, Chancellor Shaw made Otto the Orange Syracuse University's official mascot.

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