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.
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.