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All Things Nittany

Joe Mason and the Mascot

The Nittany Lion as Penn State’s mascot originated with Harrison D. "Joe" Mason ’07. At a baseball game against Princeton in 1904, Mason and other members of Penn State’s team were shown a statue of Princeton's famous Bengal tiger as an indication of the merciless treatment they could expect to encounter on the field. Since Penn State lacked a mascot, Mason replied with an instant fabrication of the Nittany Lion, "fiercest beast of them all," who could overcome even the tiger. Penn State went on to defeat Princeton that day. Over the next few years, Mason's "Nittany Lion" won such widespread support among students, alumni, and fans that there was never any official vote on its adoption.

The Nittany Lion is essentially an ordinary mountain lion (also known as a cougar, puma, or panther), a creature that roamed central Pennsylvania until the 1880s (although unconfirmed sightings continued long after that time). By attaching the prefix "Nittany" to this beast, Mason gave Penn State a unique symbol that no other college or university could claim.

The “Men in the Suit”

Nittany Lion Mascots over the years

Richard Hoffman 1921?-1923
Leon Skinner 1927
Eugene Wettstone 1939
Donald Newberry 1939?
George Terwilliger 1939-1940
Tom Kelly 1941?-1942
Robert Ritzmann 1942-1946
Peter Bates 1945-1946
Clark Sharon 1946?-1947
Wendell Lomady 1947-1949
Michael Kurowski 1949-1950
John Waters 1950-1951
Alex Gregal 1951-1954
Alfred Klimcke 1954-1957
William Hillgartner 1957-1958
John Behler 1957-1960
Jack Lesyk 1960-1961
??? 1961-1962
Paul Seltzer 1962-1964
Edwin Parkinson 1964-1965
Martin Serota 1965-1967
Danny Kohlhepp 1967-1969
David Lacey 1969-1971
David Brazet 1971-1972
James Schaude 1972-1973
Saverio "Sam" F. Mirarchi 1973
Robert Welsh 1973-1975
Andrew Bailey 1975-1977
Cliff Fiscus 1977-1978
Norman Constantine 1978-1980
Roy Scott 1980-1982
David Dailey 1982-1984
Robert Sterling 1984-1986
Doug Skinner 1986-1988
Peter Garland 1988-1990
Todd Shilkret 1990-1991
Tim Durant 1991-1993
Richard Williams 1993-1995
Brad Cornali 1995-1996
Nick Indeglio 1996-1998
Marty Duff 1998-2000
Chuck Kimble 2000-2002
Mike Zollars 2002-2003
Stephen Soung 2003-2005
Dave Johnson 2005-2007
James Sheep 2007-2009
Clint Gyory 2009-2010
Max Levi 2010-2011
Rob Nellis 2011-2013
Michael Valania 2013-2015
John "Jack" Davis 2015-2017
"Hail To The Lion"
halftime video

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From the Penn State Press:

The Nittany Lion:
An Illustrated Tale

by Jackie Esposito
and Steven Herb

Buy the book