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Bearcats Statue unveiled over Homecoming Weekend

900-pound sculpture rests in front of Events Center

October 3, 2011


Bearcats Statue unveiled over Homecoming Weekend

Contact: Terrence Lollie (sports@binghamton.edu)

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VESTAL, N.Y. - Homecoming Weekend featured events such as the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, alumni games and a tailgate party that included the unveiling of the new Bearcats statue. In front of the Events Center prior to the men’s soccer match, members of the Bearcats Statue Initiative revealed a two-year-long project whose goal was to present a visible symbol of spirit, pride and tradition. As the pep band played the school’s fight song and the spirit squads revved up the crowd, the cloth was pulled off the approximately 900-pound sculpture. The Bearcats Statue will be on display to greet all students, alumni, parents, community members and visitors of the Events Center.

The Bearcats Statue Initiative began almost two years ago as an idea to generate school spirit and pride and instill a sense of tradition among students past and present. The Bearcats Statue Initiative committee wanted the statue to serve as an important reminder of Binghamton’s athletics program’s rise to national prominence. On the heels of BU’s 10th anniversary of elevating to Division I level and with the help and hard work of several alums and donors the funding was raised.

Such an important project couldn’t be left to the hands of just anyone so the Bearcats Statue Initiative commissioned a former BU student-athlete to lead the construction of the figure. Michael J. Van Gorder ‘07, a former baseball player, who works for Hanlon Sculpture Studio in Toms River, New Jersey, happily accepted the task. Hanlon Studio has been commissioned to build statues for Holy Cross and Louisiana State University, replicating the images of Bob Cousy and Shaquille O’Neal. Van Gorder’s studio has also erected mascot statues at Seton Hall and Monmouth.

“As a former Binghamton University student-athlete I was honored to be a part of this project because of the great success the athletics department had in using the statue to raise money for athletics to enhance the experience for current and future student-athletes,” Van Gorder said.

After a four-month process the statue itself stands almost five feet tall (eight with the granite base), is nearly four feet long and weighs approximately 900 pounds. The Bearcat was sculpted out of clay, then a mold was constructed and the final product was cast in bronze. A crane was used to lift the nearly half-ton statue onto its base where the final touches were put on the face of the Bearcat.

The Bearcat Statue Initiative, which began in November 2009 has received more than 60 generous gifts and the project to date has raised over $190,000.

“The statue has been very well received,” Director of Athletics Jim Norris said. “This speaks to the hard work of our staff and to the fact that our department is moving forward. We’re Bearcats now and the statue is going to be here for a long time to come.”

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