Mascot Madness 2014
Oswego to join SUNY Mascot Madness -- with a twist

For the first time this year, Oswego will join SUNY’s Mascot Madness … albeit with an entrant that is an iconic statue, not a mascot.

Edward Austin Sheldon statueAfter a request from SUNY to get Oswego’s highly engaged campus and alumni family to join the annual spring bracket-style contest, the lakefront college will pit its iconic Sheldon statue against the birds, bears and other beasts from across the system in a system that brackets colleges for round-by-round competition.

The statue rolled through the first round of competition, topping dual challenges from Jamestown Community College and SUNY Sullivan, they face a devil of an opponent in the second round—Mike the Blue Devil from Fredonia.

While the Sheldon statue—whose permanent home is in front of the building also named after institution founder Edward Austin Sheldon—does not routinely attend sporting events, it has appeared across the globe in Flat Founder format.

The statue itself has an interesting history that honors the far-reaching influence and popularity of Edward Austin Sheldon. When Sheldon passed away in 1897, a movement to celebrate his legacy inspired the Sheldon Memorial Association, comprised of educators from across the state, to raise funds for a permanent memorial.

Donations from nearly 200,000 children from 3,007 schools around Arbor Day 1898 funded the bronze statue, created by John Francis Brines in Albany and unveiled in January 1900. The U.S. commissioner of education at the time, William Torrey Harris, called the statue “a fitting tribute to his life-work, and also to emphasize the importance of public education as a force in the up-building of a great State.”

Madness coming

The second-round matchups, including Oswego vs. Fredonia, have live online voting at the Generation SUNY blog through 4 p.m. Sunday, March 23.

Colleges are encouraged to engage in social media and other activities to promote their mascots’ entry in the contest for statewide bragging rights. Hugo the Hawk won the initial competition last year, topping Wolfie the Seawolf from Stony Brook in the championship round.

And while the Sheldon statue represents a different avenue into the Mascot Madness, organizers know the non-mascot icon has potential given Oswego’s history and vast network of supporters, and hope its first-round victory—as well its men’s hockey team’s NCAA run—can provide some momentum.

“Mascot Madness is an exciting opportunity to bring together students, alumni, and community members in the name of SUNY campus pride,” SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher said. “It’s truly amazing how our social media efforts have helped to unite the SUNY system through this and many other campaigns throughout the year. Good luck to all of this year’s competitors!”

Progress and official results will be announced on SUNY’s Twitter account @SUNY and SUNY’s official Facebook page. SUNY anticipates crowning the 2014 winner in early April.

Alyssa Levenberg (of “Alyssa Explains It All”) has an exclusive interview with the Sheldon statue.

Mascot Madness bracket

(Posted: Feb 20, 2014)