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New Bobcat 'Rufus' welcomed by fans

When Rufus the Bobcat first rolled in to Peden Stadium Saturday night, the crowd cheered with approval, but the athletic department wasn't surprised. The made-over mascot is the result of a year of efforts to improve Ohio University's athletic image. The response at the game was very positive

said Brian Gunning, director of media relations for the Athletics Department. Rufus is more mobile and athletic-looking than the old mascot and I think he'll be great for our sports teams.Since the early 1990s, OU's official mascot had been a paunchy, friendly-looking Bobcat. But last year, the Athletics Department began an initiative to revamp the mascot's image, said Dan Hauser, associate athletic director for marketing and promotions.The result was a slimmed-down, tougher-looking Bobcat dressed in an Ohio football uniform. The two new costumes, purchased from Street Characters Inc., cost about $10,000 each, Hauser said, and should be used for the next seven or eight years. We didn't feel that the old mascot projected a good image of OU Athletics Hauser said. Although it had a funny connotation

the costume was dated and frumpy

and it was hard to take pride in the Bobcat.The Athletic Department approached various student and alumni groups about updating the mascot, including Student Senate, the Student Activities Committee and the Green and White Club. After receiving overwhelming support for the project, the Athletics Department asked Street Characters Inc. to design a new Bobcat.We wanted the new mascot to resemble the 'Attack Cat

' which is the official logo of OU Athletics

Hauser said. The old mascot was not at all in line with that image.The name Rufus was chosen by respondents to an online poll posted on the Athletic Department's Web site. Respondents voted on the names Rufus, Flash, Bob, Prowler, Gamer and Attack, Hauser said.The old mascot never had a name

Hauser said. Tens of thousands of people voted in the online poll

and 'Rufus' was the winner.Hauser hopes that the Athletics Department will build on the Rufus character, as other professional and college sports teams have done with their mascots.Rufus is going to be involved in the community

Hauser said. He's active


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