History[ edit ] The origin of Shasta dates back to when John R. Bender , a former head football coach of the Washington State Cougars came to Houston. Because of his fondness for the animal, Bender decided it would be the name of his new teams.
Later that year, the school newspaper actively used the name, and other student organizations followed. The next year, the Alpha Phi Omega fraternity raised funds to purchase a live cougar for the university, and held a contest to name it.
Among other entries, student Joe Randol won the contest with the following submission: "Shasta She has to. Shasta have a cage, Shasta have a keeper, Shasta have a winning ball club, Shasta have the best.
However, from until , Shasta existed as only a costumed mascot. Although a current live mascot was adopted by the university through a partnership with the Houston Zoo , a costumed student is still used for game appearances.
She was purchased in Mexico during the fall semester of by members of the Alpha Phi Omega fraternity. Student caretakers of Shasta were known as the "Cougar Guard", and were responsible for bringing the cougar to the football team's away games among other activities.
Following her service as the University of Houston mascot, she resided at the Houston Zoo. It's said that she was retired so soon due to an unruly attitude.
She later resided at the Houston Zoo. She was featured in several commercials for the American Motors Corporation , but was forced to retire due to poor health.
She only served three years due to the difficulty in controlling her. Shasta V[ edit ] Shasta V — was the last female cougar of the original continuous line to serve as a live mascot for the University of Houston. After a kidney failure, she was euthanized.
After Shasta V, interim President George Magner ended the tradition of a live mascot at the university, until Prior to the current mascot, there was much debate as to whether or not the university should purchase another cougar.
Those who opposed another live cougar often claimed that having a caged cougar was inhumane and dangerous.
Shasta VI was vested in a ceremony for alumni on 24 March During this time, although a live cougar appeared in University of Houston's "Learning. The costumed Sasha mascot eventually began making appearances with Shasta, and now the two are seen at many University of Houston events.
The Oregon Duck incident[ edit ] During the football season opener game between the Houston Cougars and the Oregon Ducks at Oregon, the costumed Shasta became involved in a physical fight with Oregon's Donald Duck mascot.
The duck attacked Shasta while Shasta was doing push-ups for total points after each touchdown in front of the Cougar fans at Autzen Stadium.
Push-ups for the total points scored are a tradition for the University of Houston as well as Oregon. After finishing some push-ups, the duck mascot physically attacked Shasta, eventually taking the mascot to the ground.
Shasta, actually portrayed by the football player Matt Stolt for the Cougars, tackled the duck and walked away.
The duck answered by punching the Houston mascot in the face and then performing simulated lewd acts on top of the cougar. The fight was captured by both amateur video and game cameras, and was subsequently posted on YouTube as well as being reported on by most major media organizations including ESPN.
University of Oregon's mascot was suspended for their next game against Fresno State as a disciplinary action. It was never revealed what further penalty the student in the duck suit faced.