March Madness has begun, and Mascot Madness is back too, with 13 hungry competitors looking to unseat “Avalanche,” the two-time champion who is looking to “three-peat.”
The friendly competition among the mascots at the 14 universities that comprise Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education is in its third year. So far, none of the other mascots has been able to knock off Avalanche, Kutztown University’s loveable golden bear, although Slippery Rock’s “Rocky” came within a sliver a year ago.
This year’s competition officially begins March 21 with first-round action. The mascots have been paired off using a random selection process. No favorites here, with the defending champion not even getting a bye (those went to “MacCato,” Edinboro University’s Fighting Scot mascot, and “Norm,” Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s Crimson Hawk).
The first-round matchups will feature Millersville’s “Scully” vs. West Chester’s “Rammy”; Slippery Rock’s “Rocky” vs. Bloomsburg’s “Roongo”; East Stroudsburg’s “Burgy” vs. Mansfield’s “Mountie”; Lock Haven’s “Talon” vs. Shippensburg’s “Big Red”; Kutztown’s “Avalanche” vs. California’s “Blaze”; and Clarion’s “Ernie” vs. Cheyney’s “Wolfie.”
The universities will promote the competition on their various social media outlets, encouraging students, alumni and others to vote for their mascot using SurveyMonkey polls, which will be open for 24 hours each round. The links to the polls will be shared through the university’s email, websites and social media. The second round will be held March 23; the third round, March 28; and the final round, April 3, the same day as the NCAA Division I men’s basketball national championship game. Winners of each round will move on to the next.
The ultimate winner, as in past years, will receive a trophy, special recognition from the Office of the Chancellor, and, of course, bragging rights.
“Mascot Madness is an exciting way to bring visibility to our universities and to allow our students, our alumni and the campus communities the opportunity to demonstrate their pride in these outstanding institutions,” said State System Chancellor Frank T. Brogan. “Let the competition begin!”