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Of Mascots and Presidents


Ever since Cosmo began prowling campus sporting events in 1953, people have wondered just who was behind the antics. In 1954 at the final home basketball game, the cheer team introduced a tradition of revealing the man behind the mascot, an annual ceremony that soon became dubbed the “beheading.” In one case, the man actually turned out to be a woman, Peggy Herron Mortensen (’56).

BYU president Ernest L. Wilkinson stands smiling as he is revealed as the man inside the Cosmo mascot suit.
1 of 3: It's no overstatement to say that the BYU student body was shocked when the 1960 Cosmo unveiling ceremony revealed none other their no-nonsense president, Ernest L. Wilkinson. Photo courtesy L. Tom Perry Special Collections, UAP 2 F-212.
At a basketball game in February 1979, President Dallin H. Oaks took a turn in the Cosmo suit.
2 of 3: At a BYU basketball game in February 1979, President Dallin H. Oaks took a turn in the Cosmo suit. Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU.
At a February 1993 basketball game, BYU president Rex E. Lee was unveiled as Cosmo.
3 of 3: At a February 1993 basketball game, BYU president Rex E. Lee was unveiled as Cosmo. As student body president 33 years earlier, he'd helped reveal another BYU president wearing the Cosmo suit—Ernest L. Wilkinson. Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU.

In 1960 the Cosmo head was removed only to reveal the last person students might have expected: their high-powered, down-to-business, future-senatorial-candidate president, Ernest L. Wilkinson (BA ’21), sporting an impish grin (the real Cosmo was revealed soon after). One of the students who helped remove the head was student body president Rex E. Lee (BA ’60), who in 1993, then himself BYU president, would be revealed in the Cosmo suit. In between, President Dallin H. Oaks (BS ’54) also appeared as Cosmo in 1979.

Today, Team Cosmo is known as much for dancing as for high-flying dunks and charming the crowd. The cat gained viral acclaim in videos performed with the Cougarettes. In a playful nod to the BYU-student- and -alumni-created Napoleon Dynamite, Cosmo here shows his stuff on stage. Watch to the end for the next reveal.

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