West Virginia Mountaineer

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The Mountaineer, West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia
West Virginia Mountaineer
University West Virginia University
Conference Big 12
Description Person in buckskins and coonskin cap, carrying a rifle
First seen 1920s

The West Virginia Mountaineer is the official mascot of West Virginia University (WVU). Selected annually since the 1930s from the university’s student body, the mascot is a popular tradition at the school. The Mountaineer appears in a buckskin costume at West Virginia Mountaineers football and men's and women's basketball matches and at other events.


Boyd "Slim" Arnold, the first Mountaineer mascot to don the traditional buckskin uniform. His selection in 1937 marked the beginning of an official process to appoint the mascot annually.

Daily Athenaeum articles indicate that designating individuals to serve as the Mountaineer started as early as 1927. (The name is derived from "Mountain State", meaning West Virginia). Clay Crouse was designated that year, followed in 1932 by Burton Crow and then Bill Fahey. Others may have served. However, it was not until 1934-35, when trackster Lawson Hill was selected by the Mountain, that a more stable process was established. By 1937, the Mountaineer was being selected on an annual basis by Mountain. Mountain was not active for three years; during this time the president of the student body was responsible for choosing the Mountaineer. Beginning in 1934, The Monticola (the WVU yearbook) sponsored a contest to determine the male senior who had contributed most to the university throughout his four years in college. This male was entitled to be “The Mountaineer”. During the next decade the criterion was amended to specify a person who was suitable for the role.

In the 1930s the unofficial mascot appeared at WVU sporting events wearing flannel shirts, bearskin capes and coonskin caps and carrying a rifle. At first, volunteers including Burton “Irish” Crow, Lawson Hill, and William “Buckwheat” Jackson made appearances throughout the season.

Boyd H. "Slim" Arnold, a physical education major from Bayard in Grant County, was the first Mountaineer selected to serve three years in succession (1937-39) and was the longest tenured until Rock Wilson equalled it in 1991-93. During Arnold's tenure, he became the first Mountaineer to wear the now traditional buckskin uniform. Minutes of Mountain meetings from the late 1930s indicate that a donor gave the Honorary several deerskins asking that a buckskin costume be made for the Mountaineer.

In 1950, The Mountaineer Statue Festival raised $15,000. This bought the bronze statue of the Mountaineer, situated in the Mountainlair front lawn. The Mountaineer was first used in commerce in 1972 and registered as a U.S. trademark in 1985. Mountaineers' retired rifles, and costumes are housed in a glass case in the Vandalia lounge of the Mountainlair, located on the downtown campus.

Natalie Tennant, who became the West Virginia secretary of state in January 2009, served as the first female Mountaineer in 1990.[1] Rebecca Durst was the only other woman so far to fill the role: this was in 2009.


The Mountaineer is selected each year by the Mountain – the school’s secret honorary. The Mountaineer’s costume is tailored to fit each winner, and male Mountaineers customarily grow beards during their tenure to go along with the coonskin cap and rifle, although the beard is not a requirement for the mascot position.

How Does The Selection Process Work?

After each candidate turns in an application for the position, the Mountaineer Mascot selection committee, which consists of several WVU students, faculty, and staff members, review the applications. Most of these members are members of Mountain Honorary. Depending on the number of applicants, the committee will select no more than ten candidates to participate in a half-hour interview. After the interview process, the top four candidates based on a combination of their interview and application scores will participate in a mascot try-out during a WVU basketball game. During the mascot try-out, the top four candidates will get to wear buckskins and carry a rifle. Also during the try-out, members of the selection committee will evaluate the candidate’s performance and interaction with the crowd. The committee will then select the new Mountaineer Mascot with the highest score based on a combination of their application, interview, and try-out scores. The candidate with the second highest score will be selected as the Mountaineer Mascot Alternate. The selected applicant will begin his/her term as the Mountaineer Mascot at the annual Blue and Gold football game in April. Between the time of selection and the Blue and Gold football game the incoming Mountaineer Mascot will work with the current Mountaineer Mascot using the current Mountaineer as a mentor to learn about the role of the Mountaineer and how to conduct him/herself as the Mountaineer.


John, the 2012 West Virginia Mountaineer, cheering at the Big East Women's Basketball Tournament.

The role has remained substantially unchanged since its origins. The costume is tailored to fit each year's winner, and male Mountaineers customarily grow beards during their tenure. The rifle is a percussion rifle that has been traditionally built by Marvin Wotring. This style of rifle requires the user to become schooled in the amount of powder required to fire the charge.

The responsibilities of the Mountaineer Mascot are set forth by the Mountaineer Advisory Committee Manual Regulations. The Mountaineer must attend every away and home West Virginia Mountaineers football game, as well as all home men’s and women’s basketball games. They might also be required to travel with the team as determined by the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics. The Mountaineer leads the football team onto Mountaineer Field every game, firing his or her rifle into the air. The Mountaineer also leads the fans, along with the cheerleaders, on the football field and the basketball court in the Let’s Go Mountaineers cheer and other cheers. The mascot is also encouraged to attend certain alumni events and community events, and visit the WVU Children’s Hospital. The Mountaineer may make close to 300 appearances per year. He or she is also responsible for the cleaning, care, and handling of the rifle and no one else is allowed to fire it except for the Alternate Mountaineer. Additionally, the Mountaineer is expected to follow a proper code of conduct at all times. While in costume, the mascot cannot be under the influence of alcohol or use tobacco, and may not accept money or gifts for appearances or endorse a company or product for profit.

Other schools with a Mountaineer mascot[edit]

List of Mountaineers[edit]


  • Clay Crouse – 1927
  • Burdette “Irish” Crow – 1932-33
  • William “Bill” Fahey – 1933-34
  • Lawson M. Hill – 1934-35 (deceased)
  • William “Buckwheat” Jackson – 1936-37 (deceased)
  • Boyd H. “Slim” Arnold – 1937-39 (deceased)
  • Julius W. Singleton Jr. – 1940-1941 (deceased)
  • William F. Gott – 1942-43 (deceased)
  • (War years – 1943-44)
  • Robert L. Carr – 1945
  • James G. Couglin – 1946 (deceased)
  • Sidney H. Gillis – 1947
  • Matthew W. Harrison Jr. – 1948 (deceased)
  • John P. Russell – 1949
  • Thomas A. Deveny III – 1950
  • James Almond – 1951 (deceased)
  • Dan B. Fleming – 1952
  • Dan R. Oliker – 1953
  • John Coyner – 1954
  • Fred S. Pattison – 1955 (deceased)
  • Larry Reppert – 1956
  • James L. McCoy – 1957 (deceased)
  • Robert H. Allen – 1958
  • David L. Ellis – 1959
  • William R. McPherson – 1960 (deceased)
  • Jerry S. Sturm – 1961
  • William D. Thompson – 1962
  • William W. “Buck” Rogers Jr. – 1963
  • Edward S. Pritchard – 1964-65 (deceased)
  • Kenneth B. Fonville – 1966
  • Louis A. Garvin Jr. – 1967
  • Frederick G. Reel – 1968, 1969
  • Douglas F. Townshend – 1970
  • Robert S. Lowe – 1971
  • Mark Lothes – 1972
  • Stuart A. Wolpert – 1973, 1974
  • Junior Taylor – 1975
  • Jerome E. Scherer – 1976
  • Bruce D. Heisler – 1977
  • Richard D. Poling – 1978
  • James Campbell – 1979
  • Cecil C. Graham – 1980
  • Andy M. Mergler – 1981
  • Ed R. Cokeley – 1981
  • Robert E. Richardson – 1982
  • Michael G. Russell – 1983
  • Mark Boggs – 1984
  • Tim S. Nilan – 1985
  • Matt P. Zervos – 1986
  • Tom E. Dulaney Jr. – 1987
  • Dan C. Pearson – 1988
  • Benjamin F. White – 1989
  • Natalie E. Tennant – 1990
  • Rock S. Wilson – 1991, 1992, 1993
  • John R. Stemple – 1994, 1995
  • Andrew R. Cogar – 1996, 1997
  • Brandon S. Flower – 1998, 1999
  • Scott W. Moore – 2000, 2001
  • Trey Hinrichs – 2002, 2003
  • Derek Fincham – 2004, 2005
  • Brady Campbell – 2006, 2007
  • Michael Squires – 2008
  • Rebecca Durst – 2009
  • Brock Burwell - 2010, 2011
  • Jonathan Kimble - 2012, 2013
  • Michael Garcia - 2014, 2015
  • Troy Clemons - 2016, 2017
  • Trevor Kiess - 2017 present


  1. ^ "The Mountaineer". West Virginia University Department of Intercollegiate Athletics. Retrieved 12 February 2014. 
  • Sullivan, Ken (2006). The Mountaineer. The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 
  • Ambler, Charles H. (1951). A History of Education in West Virginia. Huntington, WV: Standard Printing and Publishing. 
  • Doherty, Jr., William T.; Summers, Festus O. (1982). West Virginia University, Symbol of Unity In a Sectionalized State. Morgantown: West Virginia University Press. 

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