OXFORD, Miss. – The Rebel Mascot Selection Committee is excited to announce the Rebel Black Bear as the new on-field mascot for the Ole Miss Rebels.
The committee made the recommendation to University of Mississippi leaders Wednesday night following a thorough analysis of the latest poll of Ole Miss students, faculty, staff, alumni and season ticket holders. The poll indicated that 62 percent of those polled support the Rebel Black Bear. The Rebel Land Shark drew 56 percent support, and Hotty Toddy drew 42 percent.
“We selected the Rebel Black Bear because it was supported through the entire process and was the lead runner in the final poll,” said Margaret Ann Morgan, committee co-chair. “It has a Mississippi connection, is timeless, appeals to children, is unique to the SEC and fits the other characteristics established in the initial focus groups.
“Through this long process, we have seen the love that people have for the university. Having listened to all of those groups, we know this is a choice that best represents what they have said they looked for in a mascot.”
The committee’s decision follows an eight-month process that began in February, when UM students voted 3-to-1 in favor of a student-led process for selecting a new on-field mascot for the Ole Miss Rebels athletics teams.
“We gave everyone in the Ole Miss community a voice and are comfortable with our decision, knowing it was the most popular choice,” said Ty New, committee co-chair. “The fact that we were completely transparent through the process makes this a credible choice.”
The student-led process, which involved input and ideas from all groups in the Ole Miss community, has been supported by the leadership of the UM Alumni Association, Ole Miss coaches, the Athletics Department and university administration.
“As I have watched this process unfold, I have been impressed with our students’ efforts to seek input from all parts of the Ole Miss family,” Chancellor Dan Jones said. “I want to thank the students who have served on the Rebel Mascot Selection Committee for their hard work and leadership. The university has accepted the students’ mascot recommendation, and we have turned this matter over to Athletics to bring the new mascot to life.”
Athletics Director Pete Boone said he also admires the student selection committee for their work.
“They were willing to take on an emotional issue and managed it in an upfront and transparent way,” Boone said. “Ole Miss Athletics will now be responsible for implementing this decision. Michael Thompson, senior associate athletics director for marketing and communications, will lead this process.”
Thompson said there are two main goals in implementing the new mascot.
“We know that the new mascot has to complement the experience at all athletics events and create a lasting connection between Ole Miss and children, our future Ole Miss Rebels,” he said. “As simple as that may sound, there are many elements involved to make that successful – everything from creating a costume and recruiting and training someone to serve as the first mascot to selecting a 2011 launch venue and date.”
Thompson said work on the next steps will begin immediately.
Charles Clark, president of the UM Alumni Association, said he is grateful to Ole Miss alumni and friends for their increased participation in the recent mascot survey and to the Mascot Selection Committee for its hard work and involvement of alumni in the process.
“While we might not all agree with the committee’s selection, I am confident that we will come together and continue to strongly support the Ole Miss Rebels,” Clark said. “I know that my love of Ole Miss is as strong as ever, and that I will be in Tuscaloosa on Saturday night cheering loudly for our Rebels.”
The selection of the Rebel Black Bear follows a process that was based on input from the entire Ole Miss community. In 33 initial focus groups, Ole Miss students, alumni, faculty, staff and season ticket holders identified characteristics that are vital to a new Rebels mascot. According to those groups, the ultimate mascot should unify the Ole Miss community, have a Mississippi connection, be unique, adapt from the Grove to the game, fit the Ole Miss culture, project a proud image, be timeless and not trendy, have the ability to be active and appeal to children.
After reviewing more than 1,000 mascot suggestions, the selection committee submitted 11 concepts for public input at the end of June. More than 13,000 students, faculty, staff, alumni and season ticket holders responded to the first poll. Based upon the results of the first poll and work with design professionals, those 11 choices were narrowed down to the three final selections, and artist’s renderings of the concepts were unveiled Oct. 6.
Participation in the October poll was up slightly over the initial poll, with more than 13,300 people responding and 87 percent supporting at least one of the three options. Of people expressing a preference for one of the options, 72 percent supported the Rebel Black Bear. Among students, support was even stronger for the Rebel Black Bear, with 74 percent of students who indicated a preference supporting that option. Off-campus participation, including alumni and season ticket holders, made up the largest segment of those polled.