Ohio Bobcats and Mascots
Until 1925, or 29 years after the school colors changed from blue and white, the Ohio University athletic teams were called the "Green and White." At that time, however, the school's athletic board decided the teams needed a nickname and a campus-wide contest was initiated. Many animal nicknames were proposed but after great debate, the Bobcat won for its reputation as a sly, wily, scrappy animal.
Former student Hal H. Rowland of Athens earned the $10 first prize for proposing the winning entry. The new nickname was passed by the board on Dec. 7, 1925, and was officially adopted by President E.B. Bryan.
The Bobcat mascot first appeared at Ohio's Homecoming game against Miami on Oct. 22, 1960. Smartly clad in a bright green sweater and a baseball cap on top of its paper mache head, the Bobcat was a gift to all of Ohio University from the men of Lincoln Hall.
That day, the Ohio football squad smashed archrival Miami 21-0 and went on to arguably the university's greatest football season ever. The Bobcats finished 10-0 that year and were voted the NCAA National College Division Champion.
Dan Nichols, class of '63, was the first Bobcat mascot and set a precedent for several decades that the person donning the costume must live in Lincoln Hall. The Campus Affairs Committee decided that the Bobcat mascot would be a permanent member of the cheerleading squad and would cheer at all football and basketball games.
The Bobcat mascot has changed its appearance many times since 1960 but remains a beloved representative of Ohio Athletics. Nowadays, the Bobcat can be seen at numerous varsity athletic events and visits countless special events in the community.
"RUFUS" THE BOBCAT
Ohio University unveiled its new mascot, Rufus, during a ceremony prior to the Bobcats' victory over Tennessee-Martin on Saturday, Sept. 2, 2006. The ceremony began with a video of the mascot interacting with football team members and Head Coach Frank Solich culminating with Rufus roaring into Peden Stadium on a Harley-Davidson motorcycle.
More than 500 people submitted nominations for the name of the new Bobcat in May. Fans then participated in a naming contest on www.ohiobobcats.com from June through August, selecting Rufus as the official name of the new Bobcat mascot.
Rufus was a popular choice for many Ohio fans because Lynx rufus is the species name for the bobcat. Other fans noted its connection with Rufus Putnam, who presided over the meeting to form the Ohio Company of Associates that resulted in the founding of Ohio University. Putnam was also on the first board of trustees at the University and was honored with the naming of Putnam Hall in 1926.
In addition to the Bobcat costume, which merely symbolizes Ohio's mascot, a live Bobcat was introduced to Ohio University's fans in 1983. "Sir Winsalot," as named in a contest by John and Liz Gillam of Athens, was owned by Ohio University graduate and Columbus resident Richard Widdis.
The animal was kept at the Columbus Zoo until his death. Waddis replaced "Sir Winsalot" with a new cat named "Paws," who can be found in the North America section of the Columbus Zoo.
The role of Rufus is executed by one full-time Ohio University student. As such, availability is extremely limited for any appearances outside of home athletic events. Any requests for Rufus should be limited to major university-sponsored events that touch a wide range of constituencies. While Rufus enjoys being out in our community, he is simply unable to fulfill all of the many requests he receives. To request Rufus at your university event, please email Drake Bolon, Assistant AD for Marketing and Sales, at firstname.lastname@example.org.