Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PSSHE) takes its own creative spin on March Madness each year with Mascot Madness. Mascot Madness represents a competition between the 14 state schools in Pennsylvania and the symbols that represent them.
At the beginning, schools are divided into two sections, east and west, depending on location within the state. The schools on the western side are Clarion, Lock Haven, Slippery Rock, California University of Pennsylvania, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Edinboro and Shippensburg. The eastern schools include Kutztown, Bloomsburg, Cheyney, East Stroudsburg, Millersville, West Chester and Mansfield.
Each week, the state system holds polls on its Twitter page, @statesystem, that last for 24 hours. In these polls, mascots are pitted against other mascots from their sections in pairs of two. Once polls go live, the mascots can encourage their students to get online and vote for them. Whichever mascot gets the most votes at the end of the 24 hours wins, and each school goes on to face a new school the following week.
The mascot that gets the most votes after all of the competitions in their section are finished is declared the winner of that section. However, they are not the ultimate winner of Mascot Madness. After winners of each section are declared, the top mascots from each section go head to head in one final contest.
This year Mascot Madness began on March 16. In round one, Clarion’s own Ernie the Eagle faced off against Lock Haven University’s Talon the Bald Eagle. Four hundred and seventy-four Clarion students participated in the poll, and Ernie beat Lock Haven by having 66 percent of the votes.
Round two took place Wednesday, March 23, starting at 9 a.m. In the second round, Clarion found itself up against Slippery Rock. Director of Leadership and Involvement Shawn Hoke sent out an email on behalf of Ernie the Eagle.
In his message, Ernie expressed his fear that not enough students will vote for him in comparison to Slippery Rock’s Rocky the Lion. Over 1,120 students voted for Rocky in round one against Edinboro. Ernie urged Clarion students to gather their friends to vote, so that round two can bring out more than the original 474 voters in order to make Ernie soar and knock Rocky off of his perch.