(Buckingham U. Badger)
Bucky Badger logo
|University||University of Wisconsin-Madison|
|Origin of name||Winning entry in competition|
|Related mascot(s)||Regdab Raccoon|
|Hall of Fame||2006|
Buckingham U. "Bucky" Badger is the official mascot of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. They attend all major sporting events for the Wisconsin Badgers as well as hundreds of other events around Wisconsin every year.
The as-yet unnamed Wisconsin mascot appeared as a human-like cartoon figure in University of Wisconsin publications in the 1930s. The most familiar portrayal of Bucky Badger, wearing a "W" sweater and strutting forward with a fierce expression, was drawn by California-based commercial artist Art Evans in 1940, and first sold from Brown's Book Store in Madison. A popular version of Bucky sporting boxing gloves was first drawn by hometown Madison artist Thomas Spiece. An actual badger from Eau Claire was used at the first few football games that year, but proved to be too fierce to be controlled properly and was retired to the nearby Henry Vilas Zoo. After that, the school replaced the live badger with a live raccoon named Regdab ('badger' backwards). In 1948, a UW-Madison art student, Carolyn (Connie) Conrard was asked to create a paper-mache Bucky head-piece. A UW-Madison Gymnast and cheerleader, Bill Sagal, wore the outfit at the homecoming game and a contest was started to properly name the mascot. The winning entry was Buckingham U. Badger. Bucky has been maintained over the years, even surviving a threat by the assistant attorney general, Howard Koop, who suggested that Bucky be replaced by Henrietta Holstein, a loveable cow.
During sporting events, he is generally seen interacting with the crowd, especially the rambunctious student section. For example, during football games Bucky often directs sections N, O, and P to dance along with the band's music or pretends to pick fights with certain students. He also has a history of playfully fighting other team's mascots like the University of Minnesota's Goldy Gopher or Purdue University's Purdue Pete. Although fighting is no longer allowed by NCAA mascots, Bucky still frequently interacts with other mascots through skits. Bucky also does push-ups to match the score after each touchdown, field goal, or safety. At the Indiana game on November 13, 2010 Bucky did 573 push-ups for the winning score of 83-20.
Bill Sagal was the first costumed Bucky Badger. The original Bucky costume was introduced at a pep rally on Friday, November 11, 1949, before the next day's Homecoming game against Iowa (Wisconsin 35, Iowa 13). Carolyn (Connie) Conrard, a UW art student, designed the original chicken wire and paper mache head. Sagal, then head cheerleader, wore his regular cheerleader trousers and sweater and added boxing gloves.
The modern Bucky Badger logo was part of a group of "comic collegiate badger mascots" created by the Anson W. Thompson Company of Los Angeles in 1988. The company was one of several that manufactured decals and other logowear for universities. The Madison-based Brown's Book Store (no longer in business) was the first to order the pose. Other bookstores in the area ordered other poses. The UW athletic department first used the logo on the cover of the 1988 Football Facts and Centennial Sports Review.
That image of Bucky was adopted and used by many local businesses in and around Madison. In 1988 the University of Wisconsin-Madison formed a trademark licensing program to register the Bucky logo, which was opposed by local merchants. Ownership was decided in the case University Book Store v. University of Wisconsin-Madison Board of Regents. The United States Patent and Trademark Office allowed the UW to register the marks despite previous third-party use on the grounds that the public identified the Bucky Badger logo with the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
In 2003, Bucky was given an update, with simplified lines and the "motion W" on his sweater. This might have been done in part to give the University a version of Bucky that was associated with the University alone, and had never been used in any other context.
Academic departments and groups at UW-Madison have a rich history of modifying Bucky. Recent university guidelines, however, have banned the modification of Bucky Badger citing brand dilution despite featuring Bucky on other non-University items such as tortilla chips.
Two variations of "Band Bucky" are used to represent the University of Wisconsin Marching Band. One variation shows him wearing a uniform similar to the drum major's, and the other shows him wearing a normal Wisconsin Band uniform. Various instrument sections within the band have also commissioned logos that include Bucky holding an instrument.
The College of Agriculture & Life Science's Short Course has a Farmer Bucky, clad in Motion W overalls and carrying a pitchfork. In addition, the Collegiate FFA has Bucky in Official Dress, including the standard FFA Jacket.
The Atmospheric & Oceanic Sciences department utilizes a design with Bucky holding a lightning bolt.
Bucky also adorned the engine nacelles of the Wisconsin ANG in Madison during their tenure with the A-10 "Warthog". He was shown on both engines in all black tone, as the aircraft was in the "European one" paint at the time. This was short-lived as the unit converted to the F-16 in a short time.
The students (usually 7) who portray Bucky Badger are all volunteers, without scholarships or financial reimbursement, as is the system in some universities. Tryouts include tests of dancing skills, expressiveness in suit, ability to work with props, and the number of push-ups a candidate can do, as well as an interview and the ability to write and perform an original skit. The Bucky Team attends mascot training camp every year in August. They perform throughout the year, including breaks and holidays, representing the university and the state at athletic events, but also at ceremonies, parades, festivals, weddings, and even an occasional funeral.
Bucky appearances can be purchased; rates in 2007 were $250 plus $100 per hour, a "typical price" for school mascots.
In 2009, Bucky Badger made it to the silver screen in the documentary, Being Bucky. The film, which was created by Chicago ad-men John Fromstein and Scott Smith, both Wisconsin natives, follows the 2007-2008 Buckys: Chris, Blake, Dave, Sky, Ryan, Craig and Jeff. It was released on April 4 at the Wisconsin Film Festival and featured in theaters across the state in the following weeks.
Additionally, Bucky Badger is featured prominently in a parody of the song "Teach Me How to Dougie", appropriately titled "Teach Me How to Bucky". The music video, presented by Zooniversity Music, debuted during the 2010 UW Homecoming Game at Camp Randall vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers, a 41-23 Badgers win on October 9. T-shirts displayed in the video became commercially distributed the following week at local stores such as Name of the Game Apparel and Insignia. However, despite overwhelming popularity of the video, the use of a student athlete portrayal in the music video at the :31 second and 1:11 mark violated NCAA compliance issues as student athlete's likeness are prohibited from generating the sales. Specifically, NCAA regulations stipulate that "items that include an individual student-athlete's name, picture or likeness, other than information items, may not be sold."