Athletic Director M. Grace Calhoun has been making a lot of changes in her first year at the helm of Penn Athletics.
On Tuesday, Calhoun — after long discussions with the Wharton marketing department — announced that the Quakers would be re-branding the athletic programs as the Penn Red and Blue and adopting a new tree-based mascot.
“No, I don’t see any similarity to [Stanford’s athletic program],” Calhoun said when asked of her decision.
When it came down to it, Penn Athletics decided it needed more of a natural mascot. The Quaker may have historic significance for the University, but colors are all the rage in the Ivy League.
“It was time to leave the Quaker behind,” Calhoun said. “When you look around the league, the other mascots are so… theoretical. And how intimidating was the Quaker anyway?”
While most of Penn’s coaches and players were unavailable for comment, wrestling coach Alex Tirapelle and women’s soccer coach Nicole Van Dyke were eager to share their thoughts.
“I’m really enjoying [Calhoun’s] efforts to make us feel at home,” Tirapelle said excitedly. “I mean, sure, the palm trees were a little bit much, but it’s certainly a nice gesture.”
While two of Penn’s newest coaches were happy to see the familiar face on the sidelines, Penn fans were stumped.
“It’s all bark and no bite,” lone Penn fan Tom Rothman said, while sitting in an empty student section at the Palestra.
“I don’t mean to be sappy about it, but if Penn wins a game in the woods and no one hears it, did we really make a sound?”
The Tree won’t be the only new mascot in Philadelphia next season, as Chip Kelly announced the Oregon Duck as the Eagles’ new mascot late Tuesday night.
“I love it,” Eagles linebacker and University of Oregon graduate Kiko Alonso said.
“I saw that they originally were trying to get the Brutus Buckeye, and he backed out. So then they got the Oregon Duck, I thought it was like a panic move,” former Eagles running back LeSean McCoy said.
“I think the Duck’s a hell of a mascot.”
For the students who work as the Penn mascot during athletic events, it’s a tree-mendous change. We managed to sit down with the newly christened sapling for comments.
“[…],” the anonymous mascot said, maintaining his silence while at work. “[…]”.
After decades of donning the eerily grinning Quaker costume, Penn mascots will now have to branch out and adopt the Tree. Unfortunately, the new mascot’s smile won’t be any less creepy.
It remains to be seen whether Stanford will file charges regarding Penn’s adoption of the Tree mascot. While the mascot isn’t an official mascot for the school, it is a very recognizable part of school tradition.
“I wouldn’t go so far as to call [Penn’s announcement] tree-son, but it’s definitely crossing a pine,” current Stanford Tree William Funk said. “It’s not like it’s a very poplar mascot.”
Penn’s athletic department will feature a naming contest for the new mascot on pennathletics.com over the next month. Early front-runners are Treebeard, Joe and Earl Grey Tree.
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