LetsGoDU.blogspot.com posted University of Denver athletic news for the 5,755th and final time Monday before shutting down in protest of the school refusing to allow Denver Boone a chance to return as its official mascot.
Boone, created in 1968 from a Walt Disney character named "Pioneer," was DU's official mascot until 1998, and its unofficial mascot after alumni took it upon themselves to fill the void in 2009. Chancellor Robert Coombe in March announced that Boone will not be considered by a steering committee that has identified an elk, a jackalope and a mountaineer as finalists for a new mascot.
DU has not had a mascot since the red-tailed hawk and Ruckus were phased out to begin the 2007-08 season.
"There's no point in having the blog if we don't have Boone," said Damien Goddard, the LetsGoDU founder and DU graduate, class of 1989, who spearheaded the "Bring Back Boone" campaign in 2008. "Boone and the blog have become intertwined, and you can't have one without the other. And it's silly to have two mascots. If the school is going to march down this path of political correctness, we decided to let them go down that path alone."
Boone's 30-year reign ended in 1998 when the Pioneers returned to NCAA Division I in all sports. Then athletic director Dianne Murphy changed the school logo to a red-tailed hawk and introduced "Ruckus" as the official mascot.
Ruckus never caught on with DU fans. Hockey goalie Peter Mannino, for instance, began donning a Boone logo on his helmet and custom-made pads in 2006. Mannino and almost every DU goalie since have supported Boone with hand-stitched logos or helmet decals, and the "Bring Back Boone" campaign gained steam when Goddard and about 20 other alumni designed and purchased a new Boone costume for $4,800 in 2009.
Goddard said the DU administration believes Boone is "racist" and has shown no interest in bringing back Boone to help promote the school's old-west tradition.
"The entire process has been rigged from the beginning and Denver Boone has never allowed to be a candidate," he said.
In a letter to students and alumni in March, Coombe wrote: "Boone was a polarizing figure that did not reflect the growing diversity of the DU community, but rather was an image that many women, persons of color, international students and faculty members found difficult to relate to as defining the pioneering spirit."
Said Goddard: "DU never conducted a survey or had any data to back up those claims."
Student Steve Kiley named Boone in 1968, playing off Daniel Boone to come up with "Denver Boone."
"College mascots are probably not the right vehicle to promote diversity," said Tom Douglis, a former sports editor for the school newspaper and a 1986 graduate. "Does the Duke Blue Devil or Ohio State Buckeye really reflect Duke or Ohio State's values? No. DU's done a good job in asserting that its former mascot may be offensive to some — the 'what' — but I don't think they've done a great job with a compelling argument in persuading or selling the DU community on the 'why.' "
Adam Hammerman, a DU sophomore from Rockville, Md., is among a handful of students to have worn the Boone costume in the past year.
"A lot of people believe we need a new mask that works for everyone, and I'm OK with that if the name is true to the Pioneers," Hammerman said. "I'm sad. I wouldn't be as sad if there was more of a graceful exit."
In February, DU's Undergraduate Student Government passed a resolution 15-6 to ban the use of school funding for anything related to Boone. It recently commissioned four artists to come up with a new mascot. All four artists are white males.
Kevin Carroll, DU's vice chancellor and chief marketing officer, said the four artists were hired from "recommendations" and that the 76-member mascot steering committee comprised a diverse group of students, alumni, faculty and staff. Carroll said the new mascot will represent the school's future.
DU's mascot history
1968: Walt Disney character "Pioneer" led DU to ask Disney artists to come up with a mascot figure. Student Steve Kiley won a naming contest with "Denver Boone."
1998: DU retired Boone when it went to NCAA Division I in all sports; a futuristic red-tail hawk became the school's logo and Ruckus its mascot.
2006: DU hockey player Peter Mannino begins movement to bring back Boone by painting former DU mascots on his goalie mask.
2008: Alumni raise money to build Boone costume. Chancellor Robert Coombe announces students and alumni may use Boone image as they wish.
2009: In the same week, Boone is introduced at NCAA Frozen Four in Washington, D.C., and DU lacrosse game in Denver. He later travels to various DU road games to support hockey, basketball and lacrosse teams.
2013: An online petition to bring back Boone as DU's official mascot is signed by 1,131 students, alumni, fans and staffers.
2013: Coombe announces Boone will not return as the school's mascot.
2013: A university mascot task force is formed and announces the finalists are an elk, a jackalope and a mountain climber.
Mike Chambers, The Denver Post