The University of Wisconsin was founded in 1848, when the first governor of the state, Nelson Dewey, approved the school and invested the state’s government in a board of regents. Less than a year later, Wisconsin held its first day of classes on Feb. 5, 1849, now celebrated as the school’s Founder’s Day. The school’s first campus building, North Hall, was built two years later and the University of Wisconsin was off and running.
Bucky the Badger
The “Badgers” nickname was used because Wisconsin is known as the Badger State. The state got its name because lead miners of the 1820s lived like badgers during the winter when they used hillside caves and tunnels for shelter.
The badger went through a few names until 1949 when the school’s Pep Committee had a contest to name the mascot. A student named Bill Sachse submitted the winning name: Buckingham U. Badger, or Bucky for short. Bucky came to life at that year’s homecoming game when a paper mache Bucky head was worn by a student, starting the tradition of Bucky cheering at athletic events.
The use of a badger as the mascot began back in the 1890s when the football team used a live badger as their mascot. Unfortunately, the badger didn’t stay long enough to receive a name, and retired to the Madison Zoo after escaping its cage too many times. In 1940, professional illustrator Art Evans rendered a drawing of a badger running upright. Several years later, that drawing would serve to be the school’s athletic mascot.
If you’re looking to cheer alongside Bucky at a Wisconsin game, you’re going to need to head over to Fanatics to get suited up. You don’t want to leave Bucky hanging!