Courtesy: Idaho Athletic Media Relations
The Story of Joe Vandal
Courtesy: Idaho Athletic Media Relations
          Release: 05/23/2011
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Joe Vandal

Idaho's student-athletes go by a name earned nearly a century ago by a basketball team coached by Hec Edmunson, whose teams played defense with such intensity and ferocity that sports writers said they "vandalized" their opponents.

The mark made by that 1917 team went far deeper than wins and losses on the court. In 1917, Harry Lloyd "Jazz" McCarty- a writer for the Argonaut- subtly tagged the team with a new nickname in a pre-game write-up. "The opening game with Whitman will mark a new epoch in Idaho basketball history, for the present gang of 'Vandals ' have the best material that has ever carried the 'I' into action." McCarty's indirect suggestion stuck. By 1921, McCarty and Edward Maslin Hulme, dean of the College of Liberal Arts, succeeded in their push to have Vandals officially adopted as the nickname for all Idaho teams.

The University of Idaho is the only institution of higher education to use the mascot of the Vandal. The nickname exemplifies the spirit of the University in more than just athletics; as University of Idaho Vandals, we are fiercely competitive and independent thinkers and doers.

The tradition of Joe Vandal began in the late 1950s when yell leader Bill Currie made a sideline appearance as the spirited and enthusiastic "Joe the Vandal." With a homemade mask created by his mother who worked in the art department, Currie motivated the University's eager fans. Currie was invited to travel with the team and do anything he could to "draw attention to himself."

In the early 2000s, Joe faced a bit of controversy when the traditional mascot costume was replaced with an inflatable suit. The new identity of Joe never received the open welcome some had anticipated. Inflatable Joe's reign was cut short and he was ceremonially deflated to reveal the classic Joe underneath; seeing the rebirth of their beloved Joe, fans went wild. 

Although Joe's looks have changed over time, his spirit is tried and true. He can be seen at athletic events and large campus events all year long. All students, not only athletes, are considered Vandals with the heritage of a fierce Germanic tribe- as described in our Go! Vandals Go! Fight song.

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