In 1925, the members of the OHIO Athletic Board contemplated an official nickname for Ohio University to replace “Ohio,” the “Green and White” and “The Nameless Wonders.” They decided to begin a contest soliciting name suggestions for the Athletic teams of Ohio University and offered a $10 prize (that would be $121 today!) for the entry that best exemplified the fighting spirit of OHIO. Hundreds of ideas poured in, but it was “Bobcat,” suggested by Hal H. Rowland, a former student and Athens resident, that suggested the winning name.
The new nickname was approved by the board and was officially adopted by former OHIO President E. B. Bryan on December 7, 1925.
The Bobcat mascot first appeared at Ohio's Homecoming game against the Miami Redhawks (then the Redskins) on Oct. 22, 1960. That day, the OHIO football team pummeled archrival Miami 21-0 and went on to achieve arguably the university's greatest football season ever. The Bobcats finished 10-0 that year and were voted the NCAA National College Division Champion.
The task of designing the Bobcat mascot costume was given to Tom Schantz. The outfit he created included a very green hand-knit sweater with ‘Ohio’ emblazoned in white across the front, and was literally topped off by a large paper-mâché head made in France. The question of who would wear the costume was complicated by the fact that the suit was hot, confining and had awkward dimensions. Dan Nichols, class of '63, was the first Bobcat mascot and incepted the tradition that the person donning the costume must live in Lincoln Hall, a tradition that lasted for several decades. The Campus Affairs Committee decided that the Bobcat mascot would be a permanent member of the cheerleading squad and would be present at all football and basketball games.
Our Bobcat mascot has changed its appearance many times since 1960 but remains a beloved representative of Ohio Athletics. Nowadays, the Bobcat can be seen at numerous varsity athletic events and at special events in the community. He can even be hired for Athens’ campus weddings!
The Bobcat was named Rufus in 2006 because Lynx rufus is the Bobcat’s binomial name and Rufus Putnam was one of Ohio University’s founders.