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Evangel University announces retirement of Crusader mascot

EU Interim President Dr. George O. Wood

Evangel University’s Interim President Dr. George O. Wood, its Board of Trustees, and the President’s Cabinet have made the decision to retire the university’s Crusader mascot. The Crusader has been the official mascot since the school’s inception in 1955.

“The world has changed significantly since the 1950s, when the Evangel community, intending to depict strength, honor, and commitment to the faith, first identified a Crusader as the school’s mascot,” said Dr. Wood.

“Today, we recognize that the Crusader often inhibits the ability of students and alumni to proudly represent the university in their areas of global work and ministry.”

This decision was the result of a lengthy and thoughtful review process, including ad hoc committees and focus groups consisting of faculty, staff, students, and alumni going back as far as 2007. The overwhelming recommendation was the retirement of the Crusader mascot.

“I fully support the decision made by Evangel to retire the Crusader mascot and identify a new mascot that will serve the university well in the future,” said Dennis McDonald, athletics director.

The EU community will be given the opportunity to offer suggestions on a new mascot, and a committee comprised of students, alumni, faculty, and athletic staff will be created to guide the process.

The university plans to unveil its new mascot at the start of the fall semester this year.

Mascot FAQs

The world has changed significantly since the 1950s, when the Evangel College community, intending to depict strength, honor, and commitment to the faith, first identified a Crusader as the school’s mascot. Today, we live in an increasingly connected world where information is readily available, and where, through media and the internet, we are very much a part of a global community. An increased level of awareness as to how we are perceived by others prompts us to consider how any representation we make as a university has the power to impact, both positively and negatively, the Church’s reputation.

Essentially, we understand how our reflection of Jesus Christ is marred by our representation as Crusaders. The nearly universal connotation of “Crusader” is tied to the Crusades of the eleventh through thirteenth centuries, when Western Christians waged a series of “holy wars,” during which thousands of Muslims, Jews, and Eastern Christians were killed.

No. Ultimately, this decision was made because our Christ-centered focus requires it. This is not a cultural response to political correctness, but simply the right thing to do.

Jesus taught in word and by example that we are to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (Matt 5:44); and believers should not add any further causes of offense by how we present ourselves (1 Cor. 9:19-23).

The negative connotation and violence associated with “Crusader” imagery are not reflective of Evangel University’s mission and values. Evangel University is and always has been a faith-based institution, thus, the institution must be sure that representative symbolism is in alignment with its beliefs and speaks to its core values.

No. Every student and alum represents Evangel University, no matter where he/she travels or works, in the U.S. or abroad. Because of the negative connotations already stated, the association with the Crusader is often and intentionally avoided. This includes a depiction of the Crusader on gear such as athletic uniforms.

The first ad hoc committee charged with exploring the possibility of retiring the Crusader met in 2007. Another committee continued this work in 2015, which included several Evangel University students, alumni, and current employees. In addition, there were 27 focus groups that were asked to give input on the matter of the mascot. The overwhelming consensus was to retire the Crusader. The final decision was made by the Evangel University Board of Trustees in March of 2021.

The selection of the new mascot will begin immediately. Opportunity to offer mascot suggestions will be given to all Evangel University constituents.

Yes, all Evangel students, alumni, and employees will have an opportunity to submit nominations for a new mascot. In addition to updated information on this landing page, email and social media posts will be distributed throughout the summer to provide updates on the new mascot process.

The reveal and official announcement related to the new mascot will take place at the beginning of the fall semester in late August 2021. Stay tuned!

Check back soon for additional updates!