A look at more than 80 years of Panther Pride

You see him throughout the year at athletic events pumping up the crowd, leading students in the Interlude Dance at Homecoming, welcoming families during Family Weekend, and even dancing with the bride and groom at weddings.

A very early version of UNI's official mascot.

He's 6 feet, 2 inches tall, has a tail length of 24 inches and paw size of 16.5 inches -- we're of course talking about the University of Northern Iowa's official mascot, TC ("The Cat")! Most of us know him as the energetic, ferocious cat he is today, but his look (even his name) has gone through many changes throughout the years.

Take a look at the Panther evolution…

1930s - History was made in 1931 at what was then the Iowa State Teachers College (ISTC). A competition to name the university's athletic mascot was in full swing. Burl Berry, a center on the football team, submitted the winning entry – the ISTC athletics teams would be known as the Purple Panthers.

The Panther's first name was actually Pericles, with Perky as a nickname.

In 1937, Pepi Panther appeared at a pep band concert, as well as several other events.


1950s - In the late 1950s, the spelling of the mascot's name changed to Peppy and a three dimensional panther mascot made its debut at a basketball game. 


1960s - John Shannon, who wore the costume in 1960, was an especially active mascot. He had played quarterback on the freshman football team until he broke his thumb and was sidelined for the season. After attending several games as a spectator, he decided that the Teachers College needed an active, outdoors mascot like Herky or CY. He made a panther head and raised spirits at the last several regular games of the season.


Panther Pride Cry
TC and UNI students at last year's Panther Pride Cry.

1980s - In 1980, Barry Delp, a UNI graduate student, made costumes for Mr. and Mrs. Panther, as well as the very popular Pink Panther.

In the mid 1980s, the new black panther was debuted and began to be known as TC, initials for "The Cat."


1990s and 2000s - During the 1990s and 2000s, TC received numerous updates and makeovers.

TK, or "The Kitten," made her inaugural appearance with her big brother TC during the 2010 Homecoming football game.


Present Day - It's 2012 and TC and TK have had a busy year appearing at more than 170 events. Make sure to look for them during UNI's Homecoming pep rally and football game!