March 16, 2011
Butler's bulldog Blue II, won't get a chance to pant heavily and slobber on the floor when his school's basketball team takes to the court Thursday in the NCAA tournament. Earlier this week, the NCAA banned the school's live mascot from attending the school's opening game against Old Dominion at the Verizon Center.
The bulldog was allowed to attend last year's Final Four in Indianapolis but a similar exemption won't be granted for this year's opening games, said NCAA spokesman David Worlock.
"In preliminary rounds, given the limited space, tight turnaround at venues with multiple sessions, etc., the rule is no live animals may enter the building," Worlock wrote in an email to reporters. "This was specifically communicated to Butler last season."
Georgetown, which will host the first- and second-round games at the Washington, D.C., arena, asked the NCAA to allow Blue II to attend the game. It was a natural request, given that the school also has a live bulldog mascot prominently featured at home games. The request was turned down.
You can't blame the NCAA for not wanting live animals running around crowded venues, but letting Blue II attend the game wasn't going to turn the tournament into the Bronx Zoo. It's not like Texas can bring Bevo or Florida is going to show up with a live alligator on a leash.
Butler's opponent, the Old Dominion Monarchs, didn't make a similar request to bring their own live mascot to the arena. It's probably just as well. I doubt Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip would have made the trip anyway.