The Oregon Ducks
In the early 1870s, the founders of the University of Oregon probably didn’t expect their school to be so successful for both their academic and athletic prowess. Today, Oregon and the Ducks are known across the U.S. for being competitive in both arenas.
Oregon – while originally known as the “Webfoots” – needed a true mascot to help excite fans. For a time, that was Puddles – a live duck escorted to games. This changed in 1947 when Athletic Director Leo Harris made a deal to bring a modern mascot to the University of Oregon.
Let’s talk about Donald Duck and how one university earned the rights from Disney to use the likeness of a key cartoon figure in the creation of its most magical mascot to date.
Quacking and Flapping
If the Oregon Duck looks like Donald Duck – one of Walt Disney’s most memorable creations – it’s because he is. After the Humane Society “sucked the fun out of bringing a live duck to games,” according to the university’s athletic program, Oregon needed a new mascot. This is where a handshake agreement between Harris and Walt Disney came into play. As long as it was done tastefully, the school would be able to use the likeness of Donald for their duck mascot.
After Walt Disney passed away in 1966, the university and the Walt Disney Company realized there was no formal contract in place. They were able to formalize the contract in 1973, which allowed Oregon to continue with Donald Duck as their mascot. The Disney character is also a honorary alumnus of the school, with his degree now part of the company’s corporate archives.
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