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TAMU-CC unveils new mascot but keeps the original name

Posted at 6:48 PM, May 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-06 19:48:51-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — After over a year of not having a mascot, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi has unveiled their new mascot, donning the same name, Izzy the Islander.

“My first thought was that he was ugly," Kin Long said laughing, a senior in communication studies. "Honestly, we just took an embodiment of water and ran with that.”

Some students like Kin Long weren’t entirely happy to see the new Izzy the Islander. Izzy is now blue, with hair resembling waves and wears glass.

Athletic Director Jon Palumbo was on the task force that helped come up with the new Izzy. The task force was made up of alumni, faculty, staff and students.

They were brought together following a report that deemed the original Izzy, culturally insensitive. Like many new things, Palumbo thinks the new mascot will take some getting used to.

“This new Izzy embodies the coastal lifestyle and it really represents all islanders," he said. "Izzy likes to have fun and from our standpoint, Izzy loves when the Islanders win.”

A survey was sent out by the task force to gain feedback from students towards the end of last year.

Palumbo said he feels the task force did well incorporating people into the process, but some students felt differently.

“It’s hard to be completely transparent with a wide group of folks during a process like this. You do want it to be a bit of a surprise and you want it to be something that is, there's sort of a building of excitement about," Palumbo said. "And also, minimize speculation on different avenues that maybe we knew we weren't going to go down."

“It was really such a surprise to me, honestly. I really did not even know that Izzy was going to be leaving and then whenever he did leave, it was very just under the table,” said Long.

“Disappointed and not surprised to see how the change was implemented. It was all very hush-hush, under the table," Julia Nicholson said, a sophomore in environmental science. "Nobody really acknowledged why Izzy was being changed. Nobody apologized to the many indigenous people that Izzy insults."

Palumbo said many ideas were discussed, but settled on this form and keeping the same name, for three main reasons.

One, the recognizable brand of Izzy the Islander. Two, they wanted a mascot unique throughout the country. Three, they felt this is the best representation of islanders.

"Certainly, from the athletic standpoint, it's always great to have a mascot at the games," said Palumbo. "And like I said, entertaining the kids. We've had kids asking where's Izzy been and those types of things. It'll be great in terms of the fan engagement."

A report by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs detailed to university leaders that the original Izzy was offensive to Pacific Island culture.

Then, Izzy started to become absent from sporting events and was removed from the athletic website.

"I think that the old Izzy was outdated," Long said. "I think that it was very racist, a little appropriated. I wasn't very comfortable with him."

"I really appreciate that the school tackled the challenge of changing the mascot because he did have a lot of really appropriated, colonialistic aspects to him," Nicholson said. "Such as the grass skirt and shield, and the sacred tattoos and the mask. It all has a lot of very special history to it. It's very special to Hawaii and has absolutely nothing to do with Corpus Christi."

Palumbo added the task force settled on this version of Izzy in the Fall of 2021, but had to wait until recently because of supply chain issues.

He said Izzy will go through some training this summer in anticipation of appearances come the fall semester.

To read our original story about Izzy the Islander, you can click here.

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