College Mascot Bracket FINAL: Sparty versus Sebastian the Ibis
Sparty is the mascot of Michigan State University. Sparty is usually depicted as a muscular male Spartan warrior/athlete dressed in stylized Greek costume. After changing the team name from “Aggies” to “Spartans” in 1925, various incarnations of a Spartan warrior with a prominent chin appeared at university events and in university literature. In 1943, MSU art professor Leonard D. Jungwirth designed a statue for the university, which had to be cast in terra cotta because of World War IIrationing. In 2005, the university replaced Jungwirth’s original statue with a bronze replica, moving the original indoors to protect it from the elements. Sparty appears in several other incarnations. In printed literature, the university uses a copyrighted cartoon Spartan, usually drawn with a grimace and several days worth of whiskers, lending the nickname of “Gruff” Sparty. Finally, Sparty appears as a foam rubber mascot with an oversized head. The mascot costume, worn by an anonymous student, appears at most university sporting, alumni, and fundraising events; he is often portrayed in MSU notices and materials.
The ibis was chosen as University of Miami’s unofficial mascot by Nathan Duncan in 1926 when the school’s yearbook chose its name to be “The Ibis.” “Miami adopted a native marsh bird called the Ibis as the official mascot in 1926. The Ibis is known for its bravery as a hurricane approaches. Folklore maintains that other birds look to the Ibis for leadership. The Ibis uses its instinct to detect danger. It is the last sign of wildlife to take shelter before a hurricane hits, giving warning that danger is imminent. As the storm passes the Ibis is the first to reappear, a sign that clear skies are approaching.” The first official mascot for the Miami Hurricanes was a 65-pound brown and white boxer dog named Hurricane I. Chosen in 1950, the canine wore a ceremonial orange and green blanket with his name lettered in white. Sebastian was created in August 1957 by Norman A. Whitten, Director of the Student Union at UM, and was used as a homecoming competition entry. The next year, student John Stormont performed at Hurricanes football games dressed up in a makeshift ibis costume. The current costume dates from 1984. The mascot was named after the San Sebastian building, which became a University dormitory in 1939. The building, now an apartment building, still stands at the intersection of LeJeune Road and University Drive in Coral Gables.