Utah State's Bull Benched for WAC Championship

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Utah State benched its mascot for Saturday night's championship game between the Aggies and Nevada a day after b"Big Blue" the bull and New Mexico State's "Pistol Pete" got physical with each other near the end of a semifinal matchup in the Western Athletic Conference basketball tourney.

During a timeout with 7 seconds left and NMSU leading Utah State
70-69, Big Blue confronted the cowboy mascot and ripped off his
fake mustache after a man wearing a Nevada shirt at the game
offered $100 to the student in the costume modeled after Paul
Bunyan's Blue Ox if he would do so.

The cowboy then chased the bull to half court, jumped on his
back and tried unsuccessfully to pull him to the floor. He then
started to try to choke his rival before retreating to his end of
the court. Moments later, Utah State's Tyler Newbold hit a 15-foot
shot with 3.1 seconds remaining to defeat NMSU 71-70.

Utah State said in a statement Saturday that the university
apologized to NMSU officials following the incident. The school
said the $100 Big Blue accepted for the evil deed will be donated
to Kids Kottage, a shelter for abused and neglected children in

The man confirmed to The Associated Press Friday night that he
did in fact pay the mascot the $100, but declined to provide his
name. He said he did not expect the NMSU mascot to respond the way
he did.

"This is an unfortunate situation and a real learning
experience for the entire (Utah State) Spirit Squad said Tiffany
Evans, director of Student Involvement and Leadership Center at the
school based in Logan. "We hold our spirit squad to the highest
standards as official representatives of our institution."

The school did not provide the name of the student who serves as
the mascot.

WAC Commissioner Karl Benson watched the game Friday night but
said he did not see the incident. He said on Saturday he did not
know if the league would issue a statement on the matter.

Tiffany Franklin, a spokeswoman for New Mexico State's athletic
department, said from Las Cruces, N.M., on Saturday she would try
to contact officials at NMSU to see if they had any comment.