Gonzaga Mascot: Who is Spike the Bulldog?

Getty Gonzaga Bulldogs mascot Spike the Bulldog performs during the championship game of the West Coast Conference basketball tournament between the Bulldogs and the Brigham Young Cougars.

Gonzaga, the No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament West Regional, gets a rematch of last year’s Sweet 16 matchup against Leonard Hamilton and No. 4 Florida State Thursday (7:09 p.m. EST, CBS). The Seminoles have one of the iconic mascots in all of college athletics with Chief Osceola.

For Gonzaga, the nickname is a bit more muddled. You’ll hear the CBS announcers call them the “Bulldogs” or the “Zags.” However, the felt-covered mascot for head coach Mark Few’s program is pretty clear.

Here’s a brief history of Spike the Bulldog.

History of Spike the Bulldog

According to GoZags.com, Gonzaga’s turn-of-the-century football teams were called the “Blue and Whites” or “The Fighting Irish”.

After a football game in 1921, a reporter wrote that Gonzaga fought tenaciously like bulldogs. Thus, that description became the new mascot. Over the years, Gonzaga has had numerous live bulldogs as mascots.

Human mascots replaced live dogs in 1980 when a Gonzaga student, Mike Griffin, wore a cape and called himself “Captain Zag.” He remained the Gonzaga mascot for the next 3 years. A few more students donned the Captain Zag uniform before a live bulldog mascot returned in 1985.

Lee Mauney, a student from Hatchie Bottom, Mississippi, introduced the Gonzaga crowd to the first costumed bulldog mascot in 1985. He held the role from 1985-88. It’s been this way ever since

In 2000, Spike rose to national prominence when he was among a group of mascots that appeared in Nike’s “Welcome to Bracketville” promotional commercials for the NCAA Tournament.

It’s unclear whether or not Spike is based on the bulldog from the Tom and Jerry cartoons. The Gonzaga mascot is grey with sagging jowls on the side of his face. The one from the cartoon is brown and beige.

There is a bulldog in the Looney Tunes cartoons named Spike that more matches the mascot’s description.

Spike , Chester and Sylvester2013-01-08T08:59:43.000Z

The last known Spike the Bulldog was Ally Wilson back in 2016. She told the Gonzaga Bulletin that the person inside the suit is traditionally a secret until they are done.

“Spike is all about the mystery. He is the best kept secret at Gonzaga, next to the Search Retreat,” Wilson said. “I don’t feel bad lying to my friends because it will make it even more fun to tell them at the end of the year.”

According to GoZags, public appearances from Spike can be pricy, and the school goes to great lengths to make sure the person inside the suit is safe. If Spike shows up to a private event such as a wedding or birthday party, it’s can be around $200-$300.

Spike may participate in the following activities:

Greet guests
Pose for photos
Sign autographs
Other activities at his discretion and so long as neither his safety nor the cleanliness of the costume will be compromised
The following conveniences must be provided:

A dedicated handler to serve as a liaison between the mascot and the requester’s organization and to accompany the mascot for the duration of the appearance
A private changing area (i.e., public restrooms do not constitute a private changing area)
Drinking water
A 15-minute break every 45 minutes in a climate-controlled area; Spike may not be in the costume for more than 45 consecutive minutes at any point during the appearance
The minimum appearance duration is 1 hour. The maximum appearance duration is 3 hours.

To differentiate from various teams named the Bulldogs, Gonzaga is also known officially as the Zags.

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