DU Launches New Mascot Search Over Calls to Bring Back ‘Boone’

July 8, 2013
The University of Denver dumped Boone, its chubby, white male mascot, after officials decided he “does not reflect the broad diversity of the DU community”

DU dumped its mascot “Boone” after officials decided he “does not reflect the broad diversity of the DU community”

DENVER—Maybe Boone just wasn’t buff enough.

The University of Denver dumped Boone, its chubby, white male mascot, after officials decided he “does not reflect the broad diversity of the DU community,” but now a search committee has proposed three new figures–including a ripped, white male mountain-climber.

The university’s Mascot Steering Committee released last week drawings of three prospective mascots—an elk, a jackalope, a guy with a pick-axe who bears a strong resemblance to Eric Decker—and sent out 75,000 surveys to alumni, students and others asking for their feedback.

“We appreciate the great level of enthusiasm our DU community has expressed in this process and look forward to a future in which we will have an official mascot again!” said a post on the DU website.

So far there has been a great level of enthusiasm, but it’s been mainly for bringing back Boone. Comments posted on the university’s Facebook page, “Participate in creating the new Denver Pioneer Mascot,” indicate that DU alumni are not yet ready to let bygones be bygones when it comes to Boone, who was dropped in 1998.

“I look forward to selecting the Boone option,” said Matthew Prythero in a June 23 post.

The mascot would be named “Pio,” short for Pioneer, the university’s nickname, but alumni were quick to insist that none of the mascot choices embody that image.

“Boone is a Pioneer,” said Sean Keefe in a July 2 post. “When I look at Boone I think of a mascot who is/was railroaded because an undergrad wanted to impress a pushy, politically correct professor. Just name them the ‘Fighting Soros’ and be done with it.”

Other alumni asked why Boone was unacceptable, but the “mountaineer,” who’s also a white guy, albeit one in better shape, appears to be okay with the search committee.

“[T]he mountaineer is a symbol of a strong, white, male . . . I thought we were trying to be inclusive,” said Erin Orchard on another Facebook page, “I Support Denver Boone for Mascot of DU.”

Responded the website administrator: “[The] Mascot Steering Committee deemed it appropriate and they based this whole process on choosing an inclusive mascot. They wouldn’t propose an option that isn’t inclusive. So the mountaineer is inclusive, and there is no argument saying otherwise, because those in charge of choosing an inclusive mascot found it to be inclusive.”

DU spokeswoman Kim DeVigil said the difference between Boone and the mountaineer is Boone is a pioneer, and pioneers were known to have killed Indians.

“In 2013, let’s have a mascot everyone agrees on,” said DeVigil. “It’s not pitting one mascot against another.”

Setting aside the obvious problem with the Boone-as-killer narrative—he was drawn by Walt Disney Studios and looks about as dangerous as one of the seven dwarves–alumnus Jason Starr said university officials are perpetuating a negative stereotype about pioneers with their anti-Boone sentiment.

“[T]he University is making a statement that ‘western pioneers’ were bad people, unworthy of being a school mascot,” said Starr in a June 24 post. “MY ancestors were western pioneers, some who were actually famous for being advocates of the rights of Native Americans. How is it not offensive to me to have the school….MY school…play up a negative racial stereotype against MY forefathers?”

DeVigil also said that the mountaineer was not intended to be white. “I wouldn’t focus on the racial aspect,” she said. “He was designed to be any race. He could be Indian, as in from India; he could be Middle Eastern; he could be German, he could be anything.”

The university isn’t wedded to the three options, said DeVigil, and could go back to the drawing board if the prototypes lack support. The three finalists were the result of 45 focus groups, 15 open forums and several one-on-one interviews with DU community members.

“It’s a painstaking way to go about it, but we want to make sure everyone’s voice is heard, so we can get a mascot everyone can live with,” said DeVigil.

The university’s last foray into mascot territory came with Ruckus, a red-tailed hawk who was introduced post-Boone and pulled a few years later.

“Ruckus didn’t really catch on,” said DeVigil. “Nothing against Ruckus, but we’ve had no mascot since 2008.”

Critics say the problem with the non-pioneer options is that the school’s nickname continues to be the Pioneers.

“The Elk is Ruckus, Part II. An effort to make a very strained connection between an animal and a Pioneer,” said Paul Upsons in a July 1 post. “It didn’t work the first time, and it won’t work this time, either.”

The committee is accepting comments until mid-July. The DU Board of Trustees will make the final decision on the proposed mascots, according to the school’s website.

A 2008 survey found that 87 percent of the DU community supported reinstating Boone, but DU Chancellor Robert Coombe quickly nixed efforts to bring back the pioneer in the coonskin cap.

“The Denver Boone figure is one that does not reflect the broad diversity of the DU community and is not an image that many of today’s women, persons of color, international students and faculty, and others can easily relate to as defining the pioneering spirit,” said Coombe in an October 2008 email to students.

The university’s Mascot Steering Committee released last week drawings of three prospective mascots—an elk, a jackalope, a guy with a pick-axe who bears a strong resemblance to Eric Decker

The university’s Mascot Steering Committee released last week drawings of three prospective mascots—an elk, a jackalope, and a guy with a pick-axe who bears a strong resemblance to Eric Decker

This post was written by

Valerie Richardson – who has written posts on The Colorado Observer.


Comments made by visitors are not representative of The Colorado Observer staff.

12 Responses to DU Launches New Mascot Search Over Calls to Bring Back ‘Boone’

  1. Bob Terry
    July 5, 2013 at 12:22 pm

    Wow The “boone” Pioneer is so scary so undiverse…did Bloomberg, Nancy Pelosi, Obama and Diana DeGette get in on this. What about the people against Jackalopes or Moose abuse,,,The Pick-axe well a weapon..and making French Canadian uni brows look bad.. Is this the crap we are spending our Tax dollars on??? DU was a good institution…WAS … but yielding to oh mommy I am so afraid of the cartoon mascot…psst he was banned 20 countries and 4 star systems…Come on DU are you that screwed up …yeah you are..Pioneers I am offended by that name..Pioneers…how bout the sissy whipped conformists … I guarantee… Pioneers …I aint supporting poltical correct stupidity

  2. montanarose
    July 5, 2013 at 2:14 pm

    ” . . . they based this whole process on choosing an inclusive mascot. They wouldn’t propose an option that isn’t inclusive.”

    And just how, pray tell, is a JACKALOPE inclusive??? A jackalope isn’t even real, for Gawd’s sake. If it’s inclusive of anything, it’s rabbits, antelope and gullible tourists who buy them in cheesy Western souvenir shops.

    As a proud DU alumna, I say “Bring back Boone!”

    • Bob Terry
      July 6, 2013 at 8:39 am

      They were talking that the Denver Boone mascot does not afford the “diversity” of the Faculty, Staff, women, and exchange students and doesn’t support the culture. OH PLEASE, lol Change the name of Pioneers…the history of the WEST, which isn’t taught anymore was a violent past as well. You know those Home and Road Hockey jerseys only have DENVER on them…Be the DU DENVER’s ya can’t because people got murdered and still do now and in the early history of the State. Just like the NCAA ripping off an great mane and logo of the North Dakota Fighting Sioux.. Political Correctness. All it is.. I all I have to say..and I am not an alumnus, but support the Hockey program.. I would donate a penny to then till the Alum’s get the mascot back….

  3. Jon Amendall
    July 5, 2013 at 7:45 pm

    What’s the point of a mascot? Is it to be inclusive, or to be representative of a university’s history, location, and identity? No mascot in the world is totally inclusive of everyone and everything, it’s a silly criterion. The DU mascot committee has an opportunity to boldly stand athwart recent history and say “Stop!”, but they will likely continue the university’s devolution to “invertebrate”.

    Denver Boone it is.

  4. Harry Nuttzak
    July 5, 2013 at 11:19 pm

    How about calling themselves ‘the Unwashed Masses’ – or ‘UM’ for short. As in DUUM. That should be good enough to be inclusive of the ‘broad diversity of the DU community’. And that name should qualify as an entrant for next year’s George Bush “Improving the Human Condition” award.

  5. Shredder
    July 6, 2013 at 8:19 am

    The “leadership” at DU continues to bring shame upon the institution.
    Send your students to DU to be bullied by the progressive PC thugs.
    The apple has fallen far from the tree.
    John Evans is turning over in his grave with disgust.

  6. Boone fan from Boone County, KY
    July 7, 2013 at 7:52 pm

    The people responsible for originally choosing Boone as the mascot’s name indeed knew quite a bit more about true American heroes than those presently responsible for this task. Daniel Boone possessed all the qualities that a student or any American would be proud to possess. He was adventurous, skillful, a leader of men and dedicated to his community, (not to mention a tremendous athlete!). He suffered a great deal at the hands of native Americans still provoked from the French and Indian War and other instances, losing siblings and children and many friends. In spite of this, his Christian up bringing encouraged him to forgive and he was known by the Cherokee and other peaceful tribes to be a man of his word and always fair in his dealings with them. Do we really need to pick some stupid, meaningless name out of pure political correctness? America needs more men and women like Boone – now more than ever. Toughen up! Stand for something!

  7. Lynne Brando
    July 8, 2013 at 9:35 am

    What a mess. If iit ain’t broke, don’t fix it. This mascot controversy has been and continues to be divisive and distracting to current students and alumni and I suspect faculty and staff. I understand there was a small Native American group (less than 10 people) who were unhappy with the unofficial Boone mascot. The Administration, under the leadership of Chancellor Coombe, responded by trying to identify a “suitable” mascot for the University. The reasons for “ousting” Boone are just not compelling enough to garner any support for change among those who are invested in the DU community and so anything a Steering Committe comes up with will NOT be embraced a majority of the student body. In the meantime, the negative publicity on this matter does DU a tremendous disservice and is bound to effect their fundraising efforts. Surely the University Administration has more important matters that deserves their attention — like how to make it safer for students to cross Evans or University (lives have been lost!). End this controversy by agreeing to have no official mascot and allow Boone to continue to generate spirit at DU athletic games and student activities.

  8. July 8, 2013 at 9:59 am

    I think the mascot should be a female. I think the one, semi-reclined, often seen on truck mudflaps would be a good start.

    Or they could just stick to Boone.

  9. JC
    July 8, 2013 at 5:28 pm

    The three new options are more comical than Boone. Doesn’t anyone else find it ironic that the school changes the name of the Korbel Humanitarian award given to President Bush because of student protests…yet the students protested changing Boone and yet the administrators went ahead and took him away 15 years ago?

  10. garyinco
    July 8, 2013 at 6:43 pm

    I agree completely with the first post, Bob Terry’s. And I’m an alum.

  11. November 3, 2013 at 1:14 pm

    I’m not a DU alumnus but a long-time college sports fan and Michigan State alumnus. The term “pioneer” can be at least as reflective of being forward-looking as it can be reflective of traditional American pioneers. These days, universities usually like to project themselves as being forward-looking and future-oriented. So I wonder if you might consider the term “pioneer” in the general sense of someone being first (at something), someone (or some institution) who is experimental, cutting-edge, etc. That understanding of “pioneer” seems like it’s relatively benign yet not bland, and it’s also a good image for a school. I’ll leave it up to others to make it more concrete, just thought I’d open up a new avenue for exploration.


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