The University of Texas at Austin
  • The truth behind the university’s myths

    By Jim Nicar
    Jim Nicar
    Published: Sept. 19, 2007

    Campus myths. Every university has them. Ghosts that haunt the oldest buildings, libraries that are allegedly sinking because the architects didn’t anticipate the weight of the books, undergrads who pass through a certain campus gate won’t graduate.

    The University of Texas at Austin is no exception and has its own collection of myths and lore. Below is a just a sampling.

    Myth: Bevo was the only mascot
    When Theo Bellmont was hired as the university’s first full-time athletic director in 1914, he moved his family from Houston to Austin. The family brought a newly acquired seven-week-old puppy. But instead of keeping the pet at home, Bellmont allowed the dog to freely roam the campus, where he was promptly adopted by the university community. He was soon a regular at athletic contests and was allowed on the sidelines, where his encouraging barks would do the most good.

    At a football game the same year, the dog trotted to the sideline and stood next to Gus “Pig” Dittmar. Dittmar played center for the team and was nicknamed “Pig” because he could break through the defensive line “like a greased pig.” Once sharp-eyed students in the stands noticed that both the campus pooch and Dittmar were bowlegged, the dog had found a namesake. Pig Bellmont was the faithful campus mascot for nine years, from 1914 – 1923.

    The first Bevo didn’t arrive until 1916 as an alumni gift to the students, and was presented at the Thanksgiving Day football game against what was then the A&M College of Texas. But a live longhorn steer uncomfortable around people was unapproachable and difficult to manage, and besides, the students already had Pig Bellmont. You could pet a dog, but not a longhorn.

    In February 1917, Bevo was branded by a group of Aggies. A week later, the longhorn was hustled off to a ranch west of Austin, after persistent rumors claimed the Aggies planned to return and steal the steer. The United States entered World War I a month later, and for the next two years Bevo was all but forgotten. Costs to feed and care for the animal mounted, and with no plan to house the longhorn on the campus, Bevo eventually returned to Austin as the main course in the January 1920 football banquet. A second Bevo wouldn’t be introduced until 1932, 12 years later.

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