Almost the opposite version of the Washington Redskins name controversy has emerged at the University of Denver. The mascot for DU’s sports teams, the Pioneers, used to be “Denver Boone,” a Daniel Boone–esque frontiersman figure, until he was retired in 1998 for not properly representing the student body because of his race and gender; a university committee recently decided they simply won’t replace him.
“Boone was a polarizing figure that did not reflect the growing diversity of the DU community, but rather was an image that many women, persons of color, international students and faculty members found difficult to relate to as defining the pioneering spirit,” the university’s chancellor said in a statement earlier this year.
Despite the chancellor’s concerns, Denver Boone is actually quite popular with the DU community. This year, a 76-member committee made up of students, faculty, and alumni conducted several surveys and forums to find a new mascot, and the cartoonish frontiersman garned the most support from those surveyed. But the committee said it never considered Denver Boone, and ultimately never decided on a mascot. Further, during a poll conducted by the campus newspaper this May, Denver Boone was again the most-preferred mascot — as a write-in choice, not featured as an actual option.
For the time being, DU has no official mascot. The university experimented with a hawk mascot named Ruckus, but discontinued using it in 2007.