Pitt Adopts the Panther
The Panther was adopted as Pitt’s mascot during a meeting of student and alumni leaders in 1909.
According to alumnus George M.P. Baird, who first suggested the idea, Felis concolor was chosen as the University’s mascot for the following reasons: (1) it was the most formidable creature once indigenous to the Pittsburgh region; (2) it had ancient, heraldic standing as a noble animal; (3) the happy accident of alliteration; (4) the close approximation of its hue to the gold of Pitt’s colors, blue and old gold; and (5) no other college or university then employed it as a symbol.
The adoption came a year after an alteration to the University’s charter changed the institution's name from the Western University of Pennsylvania to the University of Pittsburgh. (Then Chancellor Samuel Black McCormick considered the school’s acronym of WUP, pronounced "whup," to be undignified.)
Before they got their growl, Pitt athletic teams bore the distinctly tame nickname of “Wups.”