Traditions

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Quick Facts
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Enrollment: 45,361
Founded: 1851
Nickname: Golden Gophers
Colors: Maroon and Gold
President: Eric Kaler
Athletic Director: Norwood Teague
Joined Big Ten: 1896 (charter member)

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Maroon & Gold
In 1880, the University of Minnesota was preparing for spring graduation. For the previous 29 years, different graduation colors were used every ceremony. In the spring of 1880, President Folwell began a tradition of common school colors at the University. He asked an English instructor, Mrs. Augusta Smith, to select proper colors to use for graduation ribbons and other occasions. She chose maroon and gold, which made a favorable impression on the students and faculty in 1880. As the years passed and without any kind of formal action, maroon and gold became the official school colors.

Ski-U-Mah
This famous Minnesota phrase, pronounced SKY-YOU-MAH, is more than 115 years old. In 1884, two Minnesota rugby players, John W. Adams and Win Sargent, tried to think of a fitting team yell. They used the word "Ski", a Sioux battle cry meaning victory, and combined it with "U-Mah" (representing the University of Minnesota and rhyming with "rah-rah-rah") to create a team cheer. The phrase stuck and was incorporated into both official school songs, "Hail Minnesota" and more commonly in the "Minnesota Rouser."

Cheerleading at Minnesota
One of the most visible traditions in sports was born more than 100 years ago at the University of Minnesota. In the fall of 1898, student Johnny Campbell offered to lead organized cheers at football games. This offer came after three straight losses, and a subsequent editorial in the school paper that said, "Any plan that would stir up enthusiasm for athletics would be helpful." Campbell had a plan, and he began to lead organized cheers at the home game against Northwestern. Minnesota won 17-6, and much of the credit went to Campbell and his "yell leaders." At that late-season game, the tradition of cheerleading was born.

The Gopher Nickname
The Gopher mascot is a tradition as old as the state. Minnesota was tabbed the "Gopher State" in 1857 after a satirizing cartoon, depicting nine Gophers with the heads of local politicians pulling a locomotive, was published. The story was over legislative action for a $5 million railroad proposal in western Minnesota. Later, the University picked up the nickname.

The "Golden" Gophers
The "Golden" adjective has not always been a part of the Gopher nickname. During the 1930s, the Gophers wore gold jerseys and pants. Legendary KSTP-AM radio announcer Halsey Hall coined the term "Golden Gophers" in reference to the team's all-gold attire on the field. From 1932-41, Minnesota compiled an impressive record, losing only 12 games in the 10-year span and winning seven Big Ten titles and five national championships - a true "golden" decade of Gopher football.

The Minnesota Rouser - (LISTEN)
The "Minnesota Rouser" is one of two official school songs at the University of Minnesota. It was written in 1909 by Floyd M. Hutsell in response to a contest sponsored by the Minneapolis Tribune. The contest was judged by University President Cyrus Northrop and Governor A.O. Eberhart, with the winner receiving $100. The rouser is sung at Gopher sporting events, along with the other official University song, "Hail Minnesota."

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