SUNY New Paltz’s mascot Hugo the Hawk was eliminated in the Final Four round of SUNY Mascot Madness.
This year, Hugo was eliminated against Baxter Bearcat of Binghamton University on Wednesday, April 1.
Hugo won the first competition in 2013, defeating Wolfie the Seawolf of Stony Brook University and was eliminated in the Final Four round in 2014 by Ellsworth the Eagle of the College at Brockport.
Mascot Madness was started in efforts to mimic the NCAA Div. I Men’s Basketball March Madness Tournament.
The competition is five rounds and includes 40 competitors out of 64 SUNY campuses. It is based on a standard single-elimination bracket of four divisions, organized into New York regions. Seed rankings in each region are based on the number of teams that a particular campus represents and enrollment data is used to break any ties.
Rounds four and five incorporate social voting. Each finalist is assigned a unique and trackable URL that will be applied to a tweet button associated with the mascot profile. The more times that this tweet button is clicked — and therefore tweeted, generating unique traffic — the more likely that campus will gain bonus points.
In order to cast a vote in this year’s tournament, voters were required to submit their email address and confirm the verification via their inbox. This is something that SUNY introduced this year in order to review consistency of votes in a more direct way.
The addition of the extra step to submit a vote might have turned away hopeful voters, John Oles, Social Media Manager for the Office of Communication & Marketing said.
This year’s “madness” began on Monday, March 16. Hugo defeated Blaze of Onondaga Community College 61.43 percent to 38.57 percent in the first round. Hugo then advanced to the second round, which consisted of 16 contestants. In the Sweet 16, Hugo eliminated the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry’s mascot Oakie the Acorn, 51.77 percent to 48.23 percent. The third round and Elite 8 saw Hugo defeat Wolfie yet again, 51.79 percent to 48.21 percent.
Oles said that this year, web developer Ashley Galante designed a Snapchat geofilter to spread the word to vote. This was an advantage to increase student connection and votes, he said.
“We submitted a couple different filters [to Snapchat], but we’re so happy they picked the Hugo one,” Oles said. “We think that’s a big win for us. Right when we saw Snapchat was coming out with [geofilters], we submitted it and it got approved just in time for the competition.”
A pitfall to the use of Snapchat in the competition is that the link to vote is not readily available and accessible.
Julie Catone, a second-year digital media programming and management major, said she loves the tournament and the competitiveness of it.
“A bunch of my friends go to other SUNY schools, so this is an opportunity for us to trash talk each other and boast about why our school mascot is the best,” Catone said. “It’s fun.”
The winning college will take home the Mascot Madness trophy from SUNY, which they will possess for one year up until the next competition.
Oles said the competition shows great spirit and is something fun that everyone in the SUNY New Paltz community can rally behind.
“It’s bragging rights for the year to say we beat all the other bigger schools,” he said. “We’re Div. III in sports. It shows that Hugo is not just all about athletics, but that he’s on campus and he’s a universal mascot.”
The championship round will take place from Friday, April 3 at noon to Wednesday, April 8 at 4 p.m.
“We’re not the largest SUNY, but we have a lot of school spirit,” Oles said.