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Weird Mascots in College Sports: Sammy the Slug

Perhaps one of the oddest mascots in all of American sports is Sammy the Slug, of University of California-Santa Cruz (UCSC). The slug, a yellow shell-less mollusk, represents those found in the redwood forests surrounding

the school.

Sammy has been the unofficial mascot since the early days of the university. 

The odd, laid back mascot was a deliberate choice on the part of the student body. The students felt that most colleges took athletics too seriously and were too competitive. 

According to UCSC’s official website, the school feels that “athletics are for all students, not just team members of major sports.” This is a very unconventional idea in the world of college sports, but encouraging as many students as possible to partake in physical activity shouldn’t be looked

down on. 

In 1980, the university decided to compete on a slightly higher level and joined Division III of the NCAA in five sports. In order to join the league, UCSC had to decide on an official team name. The chancellor at the time, Robert Sinsheimer, decided that a banana slug was not dignified enough to represent the university on a competitive level so he

chose a new mascot: the sea lion. 

Even after a sea lion was painted in the middle of the basketball court, the student body continued to cheer for the Slugs. The problem of two mascots continued for five years before a pro-slug vote by the student body persuaded the chancellor to make Sammy the official mascot, allowing the slug to represent the university

once again. 

Much like the Orange of Syracuse University, Sammy has attracted a lot of media attention over the years as being a remarkably unique mascot. He was even voted one of the 10 best college basketball mascots by ESPN in 2008. In 2004,  a court case was heard concerning campus mascots and the verdict of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals was, “We give the best college nickname nod to the University of California, Santa Cruz. Imagine the fear in the hearts of opponents who travel there to face the imaginatively named

‘Banana Slugs.'” 

In June 2011, Sammy celebrated his 25th year as the official mascot of UCSC. 

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