The Saint Joseph's Hawk mascot has been named the best college basketball tradition by NCAA.com in its rankings of the top five traditions.
Ranking behind the Hawk are: 2- Kansas' "Rock Chalk, Jayhawk" chant; 3- the "Frisbee Cheer" at UCLA; 4- Duke's "Krzyzewski-Ville" when students camp out for the game with North Carolina; and 5- Wake Forest's "Rolling the Quad" with streamers of white tissue.
One of the most famous mascots in college sports, the Saint Joseph's Hawk has been flapping its wings for 57 years. The Hawk is best known for staying in constant motion by flapping its wings throughout every basketball game and representing the Saint Joseph's motto, "The Hawk Will Never Die."
Jim Brennan originated the idea for a hawk as mascot during the 1954-55 season. Brennan, an ex-Marine and SJU cheerleader, at first wanted to secure an actual hawk, but later switched to the costume idea. The student government raised the 120 dollars needed to buy the initial costume, which Brennan donned for three years. He made his debut as the Hawk on January 4, 1956, a 69-56 win over La Salle at the Palestra. Since then, and including this season, a total of 34 SJU students, have donned the costume. The Hawk has not missed a men's basketball game since that first season.
In addition to the constant flapping, the Hawk is also recognized by its "flying" in figure eights around the court during timeouts. The constant motion, coupled with the scrappy play of the University's athletic teams, helped to spawn the school's familiar slogan "The Hawk Will Never Die!" A few years ago, ESPN used a "flap-o-meter" on the national telecast of a Saint Joseph's game to estimate that the Hawk flaps its wings 3,500 times during a regulation game.
The Hawk is unique because it is one of the few mascots in the nation that travels to every game, and the student who holds the position gains a full scholarship. The student, who is selected through an interview process during the previous spring semester, also serves as a team manager for the men's basketball team and travels with the squad.