Archibald: A Bird of Few Words By Justin Meeks

When greatest mascot’s names are called,
Among them will be Archibald.
A bird who doesn’t have to fly,
‘Cause basketball will get him high.
And he can do the victory shuffle,
Without a single feather’s ruffle.
And he worked hard to learn to speak,
English through his massive beak.
So he can cheer his team to play,
This suave and stylish bird of prey.
And old Ace Purple across the town,
Had better never come around.

 “Archy” by: George Simpson

Archie, 1970s

Archie, 1970s

            We all have heard of Archibald Eagle or Archie our school’s mascot. Love him or hate him he is a symbol of everything the University of Southern Indiana stands for. However not many people know his history. We must look far back before the University of Southern Indiana became its own independent higher education institution. It all started during the fall semester in 1970 on the campus of Indiana State University of Evansville (ISUE). ISUE just moved its campus to the west side of Evansville. ISUE officials believed that with the new campus there needed to be a new name or “mascot.” Previously the ISUE athletic teams were known as the Spartans, but soon after the move in 1970 the Screaming Eagles name was chosen.

            With the Screaming Eagles name came the mascot. It’s interesting to know that Archie has been around since October 1970, but didn’t actually get his name until 1979. Before 1979 students and fans just called him the Eagle. It was then declared on November 7, 1979 that a contest would determine our mascot’s name. The “Name the Mascot” Contest was announced on the front page of The Shield proclaiming that they were looking for support from students and faculty in selecting an individual name for the Eagle seen at games, practices, and rallies. Along with The Shield the contest was also sponsored by Student Activities and the Student Union Board with the expectation that a proud, dignified would be chosen. The winner of the contest received a cash prize and recognition at the season opener basketball game that was played on December 7th.

            On 4:00pm November 20, 1979 the “Name the Mascot” Contest came to a close. With well over 100 entries The Shield along with a panel of judges began looking through and judging the names. Those on the panel included: Student Union Board president David Stumpf; Student Government representative Steve Hart; Sherianne Standley from the University President’s office; Shield staffers Kyle Roth, Kelley Coures, and Steve Costello; Mark Duckworth from the baseball team; and Dan Labhart from the basketball team. After an hour of deliberating the number of entries was cut to five. Finalists included: Thor, J. Edgar Swoop, Archibald, Everest, and Champion.

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            After two votes the group couldn’t decide a winner. The judges had weighed each name on the bias that it (a) was easy to shout, (b) could not be ridiculed, and (c) did not copy that of another school. Originality was also included as a criterion. The final judging was made giving each judge an opportunity to rank the choices in order. The entry with the least points would be most popular and win. Conversely Steve Costello, organizer of the contest, suggested that his entry, which made the final five, be stricken. He believed that it was inappropriate for an organizer to be eligible for the winning name. However, Sherianne Standley pointed out that a good name should not be ruled out ineligible because of who submitted it; other judges agreed. The point totals stood as follows: Archibald – 17, Everest – 19, Champion – 20, J. Edgar Swoop – 21, and Thor – 21.

            The name Archibald won by a narrow margin and the winner Steve Costello donated his prize money to the day care center on campus to be used for toys for Christmas. Costello was quoted as saying, “I really feel uncomfortable about winning the contest. However, if the judges feel that entry would best contribute to the personality of the mascot, I’m happy to contribute.” The Eagle was introduced with his new name Archibald on December 1, 1979 when the ISUE Screaming Eagles hosted the Hilldale Chargers at Central Arena. Obviously Archie doesn’t look the same as he did back in the 1970s. He went from something intimidating to his goofy cartoon self that we know today. Why did he change? There’s no simple answer to that. Maybe it’s because everyone changes. Or maybe it’s because our school has changed from Indiana State University of Evansville to the University of Southern Indiana. I can tell you though Archie has been around for forty-three years and there are no signs right now that say he won’t be around for the next forty-three years.

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