USF Curiosities: The Golden Brahman?

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Robert Bickel and Brahman. Digital Collections, Tampa Library, University of South Florida.

Five years after the University of South Florida was founded and long before there was a football team, USF had no mascot.  The issue had first been discussed during committee meetings convened to develop the school’s constitution.  USF charter class members Gerald Stack and Jack Boyd had proposed the Brahman bull as a possibility, but the idea was never used.  Then in 1962, a class ring company, wondering what image would be put in the blank space on the side of the ring, proposed a sailfish since there was no existing mascot.  This proposal was rejected; instead, the University Center immediately sponsored a contest to name the school mascot (Abdou, 2009).

We are the Buccaneers!

Semifinalists of the contest included Olympians, Athenians, Dolphins, Porpoises, Hawks, El Compeador, Buccaneers, Barracudas, Golden Eagles, Golden Brahmas, Cougars, Sting Rays, Mavericks, the Southern Bull, Conquistadores, and Florida Crackers (Caldwell, 1962).  The proposals for USF Chickens, Roosters, Camels, and Desert Rats, after a Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity intramural sports team, had all been rejected by the time the final vote would be made by the university community (Abdou, 2009).  When the votes were in, USF was proudly named the Buccaneers!

We are the Golden Brahma!

The First Depiction of the Golden Brahman Mascot. Digital Collections, Tampa Library, University of South Florida.

Only, it was believed that a new four-year university in Pensacola had already claimed the name Buccaneers. So the Golden Brahma, receiving only three votes less, became USF’s mascot (Bickel, 2004; Caldwell, 1962). The winning suggestion of Golden Brahma was made by Robert Bickel who served as the spokesperson for a group of friends from Beta hall.

“The idea of a Brahman Bull was both very specific to Florida in many ways. We looked at the color. I remember us thinking green and gold. The Brahman Bull was identified with the palomino color. We felt gold and the bull very unique; nobody else had it. A lot of people didn’t realize that Florida was one of the nation’s biggest cattle state. Even if we were going to have a mascot, it probably should be like the University of Texas, or something like that. Off we went.” -Robert Bickel 2004 Oral History

Less than a month after the announcement, it was verified that the school in Pensacola had actually adopted Pirates as their mascot.  A small judiciary committee decided to resurrect the rightful contest winner and declare USF to be the Buccaneers once again (Abdou, 2009).

We are the Buccaneers!

The announcement inspired disagreement among the student body who felt this new decision wasn’t made with the consideration it required. A petition was drafted and circulated to call for a new and final vote.  The petition ended up gathering signatures from a larger portion of the population than had originally voted on the initial contest (Stewart, 1962).  A new vote between Buccaneer and Golden Brahma was held in the fall of 1962 with the Golden Brahma emerging as victorious.  The Golden Brahma was officially unveiled as the USF mascot on November 17th, 1962 (Abdou, 2009).  Not long after the name was corrected to Golden Brahman after it was learned that brahma is a type of Asian chicken.

We are the Golden Brahman!

The Golden Brahman remained USF’s mascot for twenty years.  It lent its name to the unauthorized student paper in the 1960s that featured faculty profiles and news of student events.  Issues of the Brahman have been digitized in USF Libraries’ Digital Collections:

In the early 1980s, University police would embrace the Brahman with the creation of a masked super hero:  Brahman Man.  Brahman Man made appearances at campus events in an effort to inspire community participation in crime watch and to publicize crime prevention activities.

In 1982 the USF Athletic department dismissed the Golden Brahman in favor of naming USF the Bulls (Abdou, 2009).  But the legacy of the Golden Brahman can still be found at USF.  USF’s Order of the Golden Brahman is made up of alumni and student leaders that seek to uphold the traditions and values of the University of South Florida:

Discover more captivating, and sometimes curious, recollections housed in USF Digital Collections.

Want more USF Curiosities? Check out the posts in this series:



  1. Abdou, Patricia (2009) The Story Behind Rocky the Bull. USF Athletics.
  2. Caldwell, Sarah (1962) Brhama Cops USF Contest. Tampa Times Campus Edition. 1 October 1962.
  3. Mellenthin, Ryan (2019) Why your mascot sucks: University of South Florida. Bucky’s 5th Quarter: a Wisconsin Badger Community.
  4. Robert Bickle Oral History (2004) USF Libraries Digital Collections.
  5. Stewart, Louise (1962) Buccaneer and Brahma Reenter in the Competition. Tampa Times Campus Edition. 22 Oct 1962.
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