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Go…Dillos?: How UTSA’s Mascot Became the Roadrunner

December 19, 2008

With UTSA’s long-awaited announcement yesterday that football will be added to the athletics program, the Top Shelf decided to take a look at the history of UTSA’s mascot, Rowdy the Roadrunner.

Click for larger image.
UTSA Dillos poster, 1977, University Artifacts and Memorabilia Collection, UA 98, Archives and Special Collections, UTSA Library.

In 1987, Dr. Thomas Greaves, Director of the Division of Social Sciences at UTSA from 1973-1980, donated some interesting artifacts to the university in the hope that they would be given to an archivist. The items included an oversize mock-up of a logo for the “UTSA Dillos” (above) and a drawing of an armadillo. Greaves writes in his letter of donation that “the poster and the armadillo cutout stem from … when UTSA was deciding what to call its athletic team. There was a campus-wide vote between the Roadrunners, the Stars, and the Armadillos, and a vigorous campaign on behalf of each. The armadillos lost, but these two items were part of the wall posters during the election.”

Students indeed elected their own mascot, in the fall semester of 1977. According to an article in the October 1977 UTSA Bulletin entitled “Mascot Choices Bear Up,” students suggested approximately 50 possible mascots in September 1977 (the title references the suggestion of the bear as a possible mascot). The top nine suggestions–the armadillo, eagle, el conquistador, jaguar, puma, roadrunner, star, toro, and vaquero–were put to a vote in November 1977. The votes were tallied, and the top two contenders were announced: the armadillos and the stars.


There were arguments for both. Athletics Director Rudy Davalos had requested the star to be added to the ballot. “The star would be a good mascot for UTSA because Texas is the lone star state,” Davalos is quoted as saying in a November 4, 1977 press release. “The star is neither masculine nor feminine and equally can represent men and women athletes.” The press release states that former Student Representative Assembly member and “strong armadillo supporter” Bruce Garcia argued that “UTSA is located in the Texas hill country and needs a mascot symbolic of this area. The armadillo serves this purpose perfectly.”

Fortunately for the roadrunner, the election was subsequently declared void by the Student Representative Assembly and a new election was scheduled. The nine original candidates were included on the new ballot, with a write-in option. On November 23, with 1900 of UTSA’s 7350 students voting, the two new leaders were announced: the armadillo and the roadrunner. Students voted in a final election in December 1977, and on December 9, 1977, at a bonfire rally, the roadrunner was announced as UTSA’s first mascot.

Do you know why the UTSA roadrunner was named “Rowdy”? If you have any information on the naming of UTSA’s mascot, please contact the University Archivist.

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