Our Word: A swift, unjust kick in the tail

By Gus Bode

He’s not Nixon or even Walter Wendler, but Brian Ardaugh has had to deal with his own premature exit recently – one filled with controversy.

Because of a couple unfortunate choices Ardaugh made while doing his job during SIU’s first-round playoff game against the University of Tennessee-Martin, administrators decided to give a two-game suspension to the senior also known as Gray Dawg. The punishment has played out now, Ardaugh missing the last home games hosted by SIUC’s men’s and women’s teams, and quite frankly, it’s unfortunate that a person who has fully embraced his life as a Saluki has had to see the end of his time at this school marred because of a supposed mooning.

On the sideline that day versus Tennessee-Martin, Ardaugh participated in some typical mascot goofiness and made a fake attempt to kidnap some UTM cheerleaders. In response, the Skyhawk contingent showed its displeasure for Gray Dawg’s actions. But he acted fiercely, how else should a regal dog act?


At that point, the pants came down – the pants over Ardaugh’s furry costume. Apparently this costumed mooning is not befitting the reputation of Saluki athletics and SIU in general.

“I’m not going to have that. This is my home turf,” Ardaugh told the DAILY EGYPTIAN, referring to how he felt during the situation.

“Somehow he offended some people, and we don’t want to tolerate that,” Saluki Marketing Director Mike Trude said in the same story.

The world of college sports, an ultra-competitive and tradition-laden field of athletics, often produces or indirectly promotes foul behavior from game observers. One incident of this nature occurred during SIU’s Oct. 14 game at Illinois State University. There, plastic footballs were thrown at Saluki players, and head coach Jerry Kill’s history of seizures was mocked as well as his wife. Nothing is wrong with SIU holding itself to a higher standard than its opponents, but why be so hard on yourself for costumed mooning, which doesn’t measure up to malicious chanting or hundreds of footballs thrown at players?

Trude, along with Athletic Director Mario Moccia, is rightly motivated; neither man is wrong for weighing heavily the reputation of this school in the decision, but did Ardaugh’s actions really hurt or smear SIU’s reputation? Let’s break the situation down – a mascot, still in uniform, showed a little more of his tail than is usually expected.

Of course, some UTM fans expressed their displeasure in e-mails to administrators. But who wouldn’t after such a heartbreaking loss? The UTM fans might have overreacted, and the SIU administrators did too. Why couldn’t an apology suffice, even a direct apology from the unmasked Ardaugh? Was that ever an option?

Maybe an e-mail campaign should have been put on in the days following SIU’s visit to Illinois State. SIU probably could have gotten the 37-10 final score reversed.


As it stands, Ardaugh had to settle for a dance alongside the Marching Salukis during Saturday’s Light Fantastic Parade as his final bow. Instead of donning the suit for Saturday’s game against Saint Louis University, Ardaugh stood in the Dawg Pound in regular clothes, holding a sign that read, “I’m still Gray Dawg.”

Ardaugh appreciated the cheers he got then. Hopefully, it could provide some sort of solace. The moot offer by Trude to allow Ardaugh to work a men’s game and a women’s game after his Dec. 16 graduation smacks some feeling of pity for the hardworking mascot, but its taste is nothing better than bittersweet.