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Gunston Lives!

In early June, some idiot Washington Post reporter reported that George Mason's furry green mascot Gunston would be replaced as the school's primary mascot. Sports Illustrated picked up the item (as did its Web site). So did NPR. So did The Realests and Deadspin. (Note seldom-seen Gunston pics here.)

Well, not so fast Gunston haters. (And oh yeah, they're out there.) The alternate primary mascot is no more, and Gunston will keep on representin', although he plans to change clothes (really). This from university spokesman Dan Walsch:

He [pause]... 'It' is here to stay, and we're looking to give Gunston a makeover. That'll be the only change, but the decision of the university is that he is very much here to stay. When the spotlight went on the university in the Final Four we thought the feelings Gunston helped generate were positive. We thought the character did a good job of being fun and representing the school, and we thought he was not only worth keeping but enhancing his look and if anything making him more visible...The general feeling from what I hear is that Gunston is very positively received, that people like him and it's good that we're keeping him.

This decision went to the very highest levels of the school, including President Alan G. Merten. Gunston will get an updated outfit, which will make him look more contemporary and more fun, although said outfit has not yet been made public. (Uggs? Seersucker? Skinny jeans?) Clothing aside, Gunston him/her/itself will be the same, "like you and I are the same," Walsch told me. "We just put on a different shirt every day, but we're still the same." As for what exactly Gunston is, "I don't know," Walsch said. "He's our mascot, how's that for an answer?"

My next call was to former student body president Dale Van Wagner, a longtime Gunston supporter. He told me that Gunston has about 2,200 friends on Facebook--"that's like 1,000 more than anyone else at the school"--and has spawned several "I Love Gunston" groups. Needless to say, van Wagner approved of Gunston's reprieve.

"Not a lot of people really complain about the Phillie Phanatic not representing the City of Brotherly Love enough or not being fierce enough, and I think Gunston is in that mold," he said. "I think he's a fine mascot. Why not?"

Why not indeed.

(Full disclosure: the student paper was all over this story before me.)

By Dan Steinberg  |  September 11, 2006; 11:59 AM ET
Categories:  College Basketball  
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Next: On mass-marketed ice cream, "Herotica" novels, coach-speak and lazy writers


I went to a Mason game early last year and was amused by Gunston's lack of, well, pizzazz. His schtick: Clap paws a few times. Pat cheerleader on head. Talk to friends in student section. Ask friends why everyone's cheering. Run onto court with half the timeout already gone. Run off court. Decide to pay more attention to game. Clap paws some more. Change mind and decide friends are more interesting than game. Go under bleachers and snarf free hoagie.

Not the most spirited mascot I've seen, but I think that's part of his charm.

Posted by: name_that_rash | September 11, 2006 3:04 PM | Report abuse

I would like to know where people are getting the idea that Gunston is popular. I am one of the more active people in the alumni community (volunteering and attending Mason events of all kinds) and aside from a few recent students and/or some people that know the person inside Gunston personally, I have never met a person that actually likes the character. It is bad enough that we have had to tolerate this creation that comes from twisted application of political correctness (evidently, patriots were a bad thing), but now we have to listen to people trying to convince us that he is actually popular with fans and alumni. That is just not the case.

Posted by: gmubrian | September 12, 2006 4:37 PM | Report abuse

As a long time fan and alum, I've despised Gunston for years. He is a symbol of all that is wrong with Mason. He was created through a mix of political correctness and lack of imagination. He's just awful. What's worse though is the administration blatantly turning their backs on those who have supported the program for years who clamored for this change. This is not a new movement. True fans have wanted to be rid of this blob for a long time. So the university botches things by including this thing in a long-term marketing campaign and feel they are tied to Gunston. On top of that now they are trying to cover their tracks by saying that people like Gunston. This whole charade reflects terribly on the university, but sadly it is what I have come to expect from our administration. Inaction and ineptitude.

Posted by: gmufan2000 | September 12, 2006 4:49 PM | Report abuse

Gunston, the green amorphous blob, has been a laughingstock since its inception. In my tenure at Mason, it was laughingly called Booger because of its huge, naked belly flopping around as it danced and jumped around the Patriot Center. The fact that it went on a diet and put on some clothes doesnt make this mascot any better. It needs to go.

Posted by: Kevin | September 12, 2006 4:51 PM | Report abuse

I hate the big green PC monster as much as the next guy. But I am not convinced the administration would have the guts to replace him with something more fitting such as a patriot. At least in its current form, it is a reminder that the PC police are in charge at the school named after the father of the Bill of Rights.

Posted by: ww | September 12, 2006 5:03 PM | Report abuse

The only thing I am more angry about than the sudden return of Gunston, is the fact that a spokesperson of the school purposefully misled a member of the media, and misrepresented the VAST majority of Mason alumni in doing so.

Dan Walsch should be fired immediately.

Posted by: Bill of Writes | September 12, 2006 5:12 PM | Report abuse

Gunston is by far the worst mascot in the history of the NCAA (yes that mean you too St. Louis University Billiken!). This is a pure example of political-correctness gone wrong! As an alumni of GMU and GMU Law, I am completely embarrased by our mascot. The administration should be ashamed of thier lack of insight after such a brilliant Final Four run. This is just one example, out of a long list, of how the administration is out of touch with the students, alumni, and reality in general!

Posted by: MattHaus11 | September 12, 2006 5:15 PM | Report abuse

To quote comic book guy, "Worst mascot ever!" He makes the red blob thing at Western Kentucky look cool.

Is this really the best GMU can do? It's a Final Four team by gosh, not a Springfield Youth club team. "It's ok if we don't beat UConn fellas, just try your gosh darn best, have fun, and afterwards juice box and cookies!"

Posted by: G&G | September 12, 2006 5:16 PM | Report abuse

This thing is an embarrassment to George Mason and anyone who is tired of over the top political correctness. As an alum and long time season ticket holder, I must say that there are so many causes for people to take up at GMU, including but not limited to a football team, Greek housing and the schools new zero tolerance alcohol policy. I find it sad and disappointing that this ridiculous cause is the one that a grassroots effort apparently worked for. Somewhere Bluto and Otter are crying, while Dean Wormer is probably praising such a non-controversial mascot.

Posted by: 99 Patriot | September 12, 2006 5:24 PM | Report abuse

Gunston would be more at home on the set of Sesame Street than a college campus...unless, of course, the traveling Sesame Street show was playing on campus.

Hmmmm...we may be on to something now...Ernie's older green brother...of course!!

Death to Gunston!

Posted by: Dead Patriot | September 12, 2006 5:47 PM | Report abuse

Gunston is a disgrace! Who wants an androgenous fuzzy green blob as their mascot? Get rid of him and save face while you can Mason.

Posted by: John - Richmond, VA | September 12, 2006 5:55 PM | Report abuse

I've always been proud to be a George Mason graduate and have never been prouder than this past March. But having Gunston as a mascot is a complete embarassment to the entire Mason community. George Mason, the man, was a founding father of this country. A school bearing his name deserves better than Gunston. Heck, for the amount of money I've poured into that school, I deserve better! Dan, please help us and don't let this story die. Gunston must go.

Posted by: Mike- Maryland | September 12, 2006 6:34 PM | Report abuse

I don't know about anyone else, but I go to basketball games to watch the team. A freakin' jackalope could be our mascot and I couldn't care less because I really don't pay attention. If you need a dude in a costume to pump you up at the game, sports may not be your bag.

Also, it's not like anyone has a better idea. Most of the time people say the mascot should be a colonial era soldier or George Mason himself. Yawn. I'm not a big fan of looking like a GW ripoff. One white colonial male mascot is enough in the DC metro.

Posted by: Eric | September 12, 2006 6:50 PM | Report abuse

soooooo Dan, where are all these supporters at?

What's frustrating about this whole situation is the fact that the ENTIRE administration is mum on this topic -- and are sending a peon in Walsch to do their dirty work. The athletic department hasn't said a word about it, and they were the ones who initially stated "IT" (I refuse to use ITs proper name) would be no more.

Combine that, with the fact that there are no hard numbers to prove any of these claims (oh, and last I checked Facebook membership and quoting stats from there are about as reliable as a lemon vehicle).

It is amazing that the administration of a higher institution thinks they can pull the wool over the eyes of its alumni.

Posted by: s_curl | September 12, 2006 8:05 PM | Report abuse

I forgot to mention that a 'hiccup' like this is about par for the course for our Administration.

Interested in a good lead Dan? Look into a story about the infamous GMU Final Four DVD that was promised several months ago that has yet to be delivered.

Posted by: s_curl | September 12, 2006 8:11 PM | Report abuse

This makes about as much sense as building an Opera House in Prince William County. Oh wait, Merten is doing that too!

Get rid of the Big Green Booger.

Posted by: themaskedavenger | September 12, 2006 9:38 PM | Report abuse

Well, Mr. Walsch admits he doesn't know what that lame pizza-throwing green blob is either. Kinda embarrasing to have no answer when people ask you what exactly Gunston is. A co-worker and GMU graduate student calls Gunston "The Booger". Works for me.

Posted by: gmu92 | September 12, 2006 9:56 PM | Report abuse

Gunston is a joke of a mascot and an embarassment to our school. What is Gunston? The politically correct mascot of the year? We are the PATRIOTS, not the green blobs! And the school wonders why we had zero school spirit prior to last March.

Posted by: Ryan | September 12, 2006 9:58 PM | Report abuse

As a VCU and CAA fan, it's embarassing to see the politically correct green blob representing the conference in the NCAA's. Get rid of the liberal elite's PC mascot and bring back the original Patriot, musket and all. The only thing more embarrassing would be to have GMU's green blob and William and Mary's PC love child the little green blob ebert on national TV at the same time. Say goodbye to gunston PLEASE.

Posted by: Obelix | September 12, 2006 10:04 PM | Report abuse

You guys are losers-get a life.

Posted by: TMACgriddle | September 12, 2006 10:18 PM | Report abuse

Dan, other than phantom administrators and an ex-student body president (who never takes off his rose-colored glasses regarding ANYTHING Mason does), I've yet to meet another person that supports Gunston as Mason's mascot. I fail to see any way in which Gunston reflects George Mason the man, or the nickname "Patriots".

To top it all off, the PC origins of Gunston boggle the mind. I can't say I've heard any angst about the mascots of GW, UMass, UVA, or Vanderbilt. Not to say that our mascot has to be a "colonial guy", but something, almost ANYTHING is better than that green thing.

And Eric, we don't need a mascot to pump us up at a game, we just want one that the students actually CHEER for... not one that is greeted by indifference and, yes, boos. Also, it's not a matter of someone having a better idea, it's a matter of having someone in the Administration willing to listen to a better idea... which is something they don't seem willing to do.

Posted by: CLP | September 12, 2006 10:49 PM | Report abuse

I'd rather have the Philly Phanatic since he just looks dumb, not scary and little kids won't mind having it as a doll.

Posted by: fsndc | September 12, 2006 11:53 PM | Report abuse

What a joke. Obviously the administration is not listening to the alumni. Get rid of the mascot now!

Posted by: Mike - Tampa, Florida | September 13, 2006 12:50 AM | Report abuse

Mason have always had awful mascots (see link:"") However, Gunston is the lowest of the low. In the name of political correctness, the admins created a giant green blob that in no way represents the school or its student. At the Final Four in Indianapolis, everyone laughed at it. In my four years of attending b-ball games at Pat Dome, I have noticed that very few actually like him. The admins are blowing smoke- they have no substantive proof that people actually like Gunston. Given the amount of thought that goes into joining a Facebook group, using Facebook group memership numbers as evidence is laughable. If Gunston was so really well-liked, then why reconsider changing it before beginning of this school year? Also where is my copy of the Final Four DVD that I ordered and paid for in April?

Posted by: rcmpcbf | September 13, 2006 7:02 AM | Report abuse

Mason's mascot doesn't have to be a patriot. Some suggestions that I have heard of include a Just-a-Bill type character to represent the father of the Bill of Rights or maybe Kryptonite Kid. Any better ideas?

Posted by: dkjafdsfdfakdf | September 13, 2006 7:19 AM | Report abuse

Mason sucks and so does that damn thing they call a mascot. All hail blahi.

Posted by: Blahi | September 13, 2006 8:26 AM | Report abuse

In my oppinion, Gunston is the only thing I am ashamed about at George Mason University both when I was a student and now as an alum. Open up your eyes Alan Merten and Co. and realize Gunston has got to go!

Posted by: agntzorlac | September 13, 2006 8:31 AM | Report abuse

Irrelevant to the topic, but please ignore the comments made by the Old Dominion University representatives (TMACgriddle and Blahi)

Posted by: GMUalum06 | September 13, 2006 8:37 AM | Report abuse

Gunston had a nice run, but the time has come for him to be kicked to the curb. It blows my mind with how out of touch the Admin is with the Alums.

My personal opinion is that the University is too young to realize that they are finally old enough to have alumni who are willing to push back when they disagree with something.

Wake up Merten and the rest of the administration...this isn't 1986 anymore. You have to listen to your alums now...we matter! And will continue to matter for a long time!

Posted by: KidKryptonite | September 13, 2006 9:37 AM | Report abuse

Gunston is just another thing we GMU alumni have had to endure over the years. He's an embarrassment. My guess is that the only people that like him are the same people that learned we even had a basketball team last year. HE MUST GO! He scares children (and many adults for that matter), he doesn't elicit any pride in the school and he doesn't entertain anyone, but other than that he's a great mascot! GET RID OF GUNSTON!!!!

Posted by: Paul Ball | September 13, 2006 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Dan - You have been had by the GMU administration. There is hardly a large movement to keep Gunston around...more like a large movement to trade him to Sesame Street for a fifth round pick.

Don't be fooled by GMU's administration.

Death to Smoochy!

Posted by: Death to Smoochy | September 13, 2006 10:44 AM | Report abuse

I love ODU's mascot- top notch!

Kill Gunston, just kull him.

Posted by: MA$ON | September 13, 2006 10:50 AM | Report abuse

This is preposterous. A mascot is typically seen as the face of an athletic program, and as something fans/alums/students can identify with.

Who identifies with Gunston?

I find it hard to believe a ground swell of student support through "Facebook" kept Gunston around, especially through the summer months. The administration ought to be ashamed.

Since it appears that we are going to keep Gunston as our mascot, I hope the admin will see fit to change our team name from Patriots to Green Furry Blobs. That would be far more indicative of the "We don't want to offend anyone" stance the adminstration takes on the issue. And frankly, I am offended by their current stance.

Posted by: KONG | September 13, 2006 11:52 AM | Report abuse

I'm not for changing mascots from year to year. Gunston, while not vicious, is a symbol of GMU sports. We go to the final 4 and now we're going to dump the mascot that was with us all the way.


Posted by: Dukester | September 13, 2006 11:59 AM | Report abuse

As a UNCW student and fan of the defending CAA champion UNCW Seahawks, I am unhappy to see that conference rival George Mason has seen fit to keep their current mascot. I feel that Gunston's prescence makes a mockery of what the CAA is all about. Our conference consists solely of schools from the 13 original colonies, and one would EXPECT that the George Mason PATRIOTS would have a mascot that reflects our nation's origins. An ugly, green, fuzzy animal of an unknown origin in mammalian evolutionary history does nothing to represent anything about PATRIOTS. Virginia is one of our most historically precious states (more Civil War battles occurred in VA than any other state), and George Mason is Virginia's largest school. Even as a North Carolinian I can recognize how important it is that George Mason help lead the way in creating a positive image of the CAA's noble traditions and of its supporters. Thus, I can only admonish those who made the decision to keep Gunston as the mascot of a team that reached the Final Four last season in dramatic fashion, and furthermore demand that they replace Gunston with a mascot that honors those who fought for our nation's independence and are known today as patriots.

Posted by: Seahawk Pride | September 13, 2006 1:48 PM | Report abuse

It's almost like the GMU admin got a really good deal at a mascot clearance sale and are trying to justify it's existence.

Mascots are supposed to be endearing characters that represent a school and it's fans. There's nothing endearing about Gunston, although it does provide some good fodder for a rival school's fans.

Posted by: JMU_DAWGS | September 13, 2006 1:48 PM | Report abuse

As of this morning, members are collecting money to buy a new patriot costume for an independent mascot to represent those who dislike Gunston. We are already a third of the way there.

Posted by: gadsden | September 13, 2006 2:06 PM | Report abuse

I am very disappointed that the big green androgenous blob is not being put out to pasture. There was a poll done with our Patriots Rewards cards by the AD this past season regarding the fans opinion of Gunston. That is a far more scientific method and a much better sample to use than Facebook. What were the results of that poll? The friends of the person inside the costume and their friends added him to the list. I have not had issues with the person inside the costume, but the costume is awful.

Gunston is not popular. Gunston scares small children. Gunston is not representative of the school in any way shape or form. To have that big green, PC, androgenous blob bearing the name of George Mason's plantation is an outrage.

I want to see the costume burned in a massive bonfire before the Shocker game. No mascot is better than Gunston.

Posted by: The old PF | September 13, 2006 2:37 PM | Report abuse

I am an ODU alum and fan of all things ODU and CAA. This year's run by Mason is one for the ages and they will always show clips of GMU when they show Final Four highlights and unfortunately one of the clips might include the big green glob that looks like cutting room floor material from Seasme Street. The mascot for Mason stinks on ice! I don't know what it is going to dump that mean green booger machine but for the sake of Mason and all other CAA schools, please replace it. To be fair, us at ODU have a lion wearing a cricket..but he at least he has some tie in to the school. Take the t-shirt gun and put it to Gunston's temple. GO ODU!!!

Posted by: Brock aka Monarchs Win | September 13, 2006 3:21 PM | Report abuse

"It's a war dammit, we're going to have to offend somebody!"

John Adams from "1776"

Make no mistake, Gunston is all about political correctness. What irony, considering the University namesake championed liberty at any cost--now we have come to this. Perhaps we should change our nickname to the 'torries' and be done with it.

GMU Alumni, Class of 1986

Posted by: GMU Alum | September 13, 2006 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Ya know, GMU's bandwagon got awful full this past year. It would be a shame if they kick one of their loyal followers, Gunston, off the bandwagon to let some Johnny-come-lately on board.

Plus, GMU might get football by 2310. And Gunston is weatherproof, obviously. He won't even have to comb his hair.

Posted by: dukaholic | September 13, 2006 3:49 PM | Report abuse

I love Gunston. What happened to all that good cheer after the Final Four? Now all of a sudden the nasty people are back. Well, I say go back under the rock. Leave the furry green monster alone.

Posted by: GMU alum34 | September 13, 2006 5:23 PM | Report abuse

gmu alum 34,

To clear up a few things: the good cheer of the Final Four still exists, and I think THE LOUDEST cheer came when Andy Ruge announced that "IT" would be no more.

Now, not a single word from the Athletic Department, and in fact, not a single word from ANY University Leader -- just some "spokesperson" being told what to say.

So why the 180 from the school?

Why mislead everyone with false claims of support?

Why is change at Mason so difficult?

So many questions, so few answers.

Posted by: s_curl | September 13, 2006 7:18 PM | Report abuse

I love our mascot. Gunston is a mascot that we can all be proud of. It's nice to have a fan friendly mascot. I for one, as well as many of my friends, would be sad to see him go. I'm tired of the mascot of the year at Mason. How many times have ACC or even other CAA schools changed thier mascot? Quit changing our mascot - it's starting to get embarassing.

Posted by: Masonfan | September 13, 2006 9:43 PM | Report abuse

Other than the legendary Philly Phanatic, ambiguous green blobs have no place manning the sidelines of our sports teams.

The fans of as well as other George Mason alumni and fans have my support in creating an independent mascot which would better represent the ideals of George Mason University.

Posted by: Johnny Rifle | September 13, 2006 9:51 PM | Report abuse

Gunston made my daughter cry. She has nightmares about him now.

Posted by: John - Richmond, VA | September 13, 2006 10:07 PM | Report abuse

I wish JMU had such a cool mascot. Well actually I just wish JMU had a basketball team half as good as the mighty Patriots. Sure we are good at football, but it is I-AA football and nobody cares about that.

Posted by: Dukester | September 14, 2006 8:09 AM | Report abuse

Most people just click accept to friend invitations to inflate their own friend numbers...Gunston, Wagner, and other pests still lingering around sent friend invites to every single person at gmu multiple times...I can not believe we are using such an informal source to gauge the acceptance of Gunston...this is like using an infant as a verbal source for a crime scene...its down right illegitimate and people should know least those with some professionalism...Dale smooches too much and offends a lot of the student body and alumni...he is an invalid source for this discussion and should be revoked the privledges of speaking on behalf of George Mason University student body, athletics, academics, etc. in any future discussions

Posted by: agntzorlac | September 14, 2006 8:58 AM | Report abuse

Leave Gunston alone. While he does scare small children, who really cares about small children anyway??

The real issue is our lack of a football team and the current administration's inability and unwillingness to drum up support in the community.

Posted by: gogmu | September 14, 2006 12:51 PM | Report abuse

While being from N C, this isn't my fight. But I rally behind many George Mason fans and friends to rid the fine university of a horrid mascot.
A school with a name sake that is so storied in American and the Commonwealth of Virgina history, should use the PATRIOT name and lend it to a fine proud mascot.

Posted by: Waterhawk11 | September 14, 2006 6:13 PM | Report abuse

I know the admin. doesn't hear alumni unless they put up. So.. my check book is open. How much in donations needs to be raised to get this embarrassing, green skid mark off our beloved Star and Stripes?

And to the Gunston lovers, it's about the total experience. No one wants to watch the pride our athletes work so hard to achieve, undercut by this abomination.

There WILL be a revolt this year. Look for it.

Posted by: Kryptonite | September 15, 2006 1:41 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: GUNSTON STOMPS S_CURL | September 22, 2006 3:49 PM | Report abuse

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