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Cheating Scandal at Stony Brook University involving SUNY mascot context

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BY H. ROSE SCHNEIDER A light-hearted state university mascot competition timed to March Madness has taken a controversial turn after one university admitted students virtually stuffed ballots for their furry favorite. “One or more” students at Stony Brook University cast an excessive number of ballots for their mascot, Wolfie Seawolf, in the 2024 State Stony Brook pulled Wolfie from Mascot Madness. University of New York Mascot Madness competition, the university said in an Instagram story shared to both their own and SUNY’s accounts. “We brought these concerns to SUNY’s attention and offered to withdraw Wolfie from the competition,” the announcement said, going on to say Wolfie would not be competing. “We wish the remaining mascots good luck!” What is Mascot Madness? SUNY’s Mascot Madness has been around since 2013, pitting mascots against each other in a NCAA March Madness-style bracket with five rounds. Votes are cast online on the competition’s webpage during a limited period of time for each round. The third round of votes wrapped up Tuesday afternoon, and the semifinals were set to begin Wednesday at noon.

How the online voting subterfuge was accomplished wasn’t clear. The online system only allows people to cast one vote every 12 hours. Who is Wolfie Seawolf? Wolfie — a gray wolf in a red Stony Brook University hat, jersey and shorts — had already won the 2022 and 2023 competitions and even placed fifth in a national competition at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, according to an interview shared on SUNY’s website. He said he was hoping for a “historic three-peat,” and had been rereading Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War.” In the third round, Wolfie was competing against SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry’s Oakie Acorn. Wolfie seemed to make a dig at Oakie when he said he’d “recently grown fond of devouring acorns.” “The students love their mascot,” SUNY ESF spokeswoman Karen Moore said. “They really do rally around Oakie and look forward to Mascot Madness every year.” Moore said the human-sized acorn originated from the campus’ Robin Hood Oak and uses they/them pronouns (oak trees are monecious, having both male and female flowers). A call and email to Stony Brook University hadn’t been immediately returned as of Wednesday afternoon.

Who is in the Final Four? Oakie defeated Wolfie in round three with 56 percent of the vote. They’ll next go up against SUNY Brockport’s Ellsworth Eagle and, if they win, either Farmingdale State College’s Ram-Bo or SUNY Delhi’s Blaze the Bronco. Voting in the semifinals started noon Wednesday and ends 3 p.m. Friday. Voting in the finals runs from noon April 2 to 3 p.m. April 4. Oakie, who was created 14 years ago and is also a skateboarding fanatic, was the 2017 champion, beating out SUNY Geneseo’s Victor E. Knight. “Our students are just excited to see how far Oakie can go again,” Moore said. The mascots who may take the most umbrage to Wolfie’s alleged cheating are SUNY Polytechnic Institute’s Walter the Wildcat and Alfred State College’s Big Blue, an ox, who lost to Wolfie in the second and first rounds, respectfully.

What about Albany area mascots? Most local SUNY mascots were defeated in the first round of votes. Hudson Valley Community College’s Victor the Viking lost to Walter the Wildcat and University at Albany’s Damien the Great Dane lost to SUNY Cortland’s red dragon Blaze. Empire State University, an online school based in Saratoga Springs, saw its mascot Blue the bluebird sail through Round 1, only to fall in Round 2 to SUNY Brockport

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