Asparagus among nominations for William & Mary's new mascot

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The College of William & Mary in Virginia is looking for a few good mascot ideas. One suggestion? An asparagus stalk. More than 400 nominations have been submitted to the 15-member William & Mary Mascot Search Committee since April 1. On Monday a headline in The (Norfolk) Virginian-Pilot boldly asked, "Wanted: William & Mary mascot. Got an idea?"

"It's been fun," Susan T. Evans, a committee member who created the online communities to open up the process, told the Virginian-Pilot. "We have a lot of great options to consider."

More than half of the suggestion have come from William & Mary alumni and a second large pool of submissions coming from current students. Faculty, staff and parents have also submitted ideas, according to the school. Some alumni want the mascot to reflect the school's royal history. Another student group opted for the "Mud Bears." Other suggestions include a beech tree, jester, Spartan and, of course, a number of birds including the mythical Phoenix, which the Virginian-Pilot reported might be the current leader, based on the online support its receiving. A green blob dubbed "Colonel Ebirt," whose name is "Tribe" spelled backward, served as an unofficial mascot but was let go in 2005. The school's athletic teams will still be called the Tribe. William & Mary was known for decades by its "Indians" nickname and an American Indian mascot, but they abandoned it in the 1980s.

A Facebook group devoted to the search has 1,100 members. More than 1,000 people are also following the search on Twitter. A school-run website and blog are chronicling all the drama of the search, and a YouTube video on the mascot search has been viewed nearly 800 times. The asparagus stalk recommender noted that if served with cheese, asparagus is a representation of the school green and gold colors.

The search for a mascot began in early 2009 when school president Taylor Reveley announced the formation of a search committee. Nominations will be taken through June 30, with the final decision resting in the hands of Reveley, who hopes to make a decision by the fall.