OXFORD, Miss. -- The Rebel Mascot Selection Committee announced this morning that the Rebel Black Bear won the online vote for the new on-field mascot for the University of Mississippi Rebels.
The committee made the recommendation to Ole Miss leaders Wednesday night following an analysis of the latest poll of Ole Miss students, faculty, staff, alumni and season ticket holders.
MASCOT: Artist rendering of Ole Miss' new Rebel Black Bear
Sixty-two percent of those polled supported the Rebel Black Bear, the committee announced in a news release. The Rebel Land Shark was second followed by something called the "Hotty Toddy," an attempt to personify the school cheer.
"We selected the Rebel Black Bear because it was supported through the entire process and was the lead runner in the final poll," Margaret Ann Morgan, who co-chairs the committee, said in the news release. "It has a Mississippi connection, is timeless, appeals to children, is unique to the SEC and fits the other characteristics established in the initial focus groups.
"Through this long process, we have seen the love that people have for the university. Having listened to all of those groups, we know this is a choice that best represents what they have said they looked for in a mascot."
The eight-month process to find an on-field mascot began in February, when Ole Miss students voted 3-to-1 in favor of a student-led effort.
"We gave everyone in the Ole Miss community a voice and are comfortable with our decision, knowing it was the most popular choice," Ty New, committee co-chairman, said in the news release. "The fact that we were completely transparent through the process makes this a credible choice."
More than 13,300 people participated in the poll, according to the news release, with 87 percent supporting at least one of the three options.
The bear will replace Colonel Reb, the goateed Southern gentleman banished from the sidelines nearly seven years ago as part of the school's effort to distance itself from symbols of the old South.
In 1997, Ole Miss ended the waving of Confederate flags at sporting events. Last year, the band stopped playing a fight song to discourage the fan chant, "The South will rise again."
The Clarion-Ledger and The Associated Press