Southern Illinois University
The Southern Illinois Salukis were ridiculed for their “dog of a mascot” in the early years of their basketball program. That is, until the 1967 season, when the team — led by future NBA Hall of Famer Walt Frazier — swept through the college landscape, taking home the coveted NIT Championship. The ridiculing stopped, as the sports world saw firsthand that there was definitely some bite behind the Salukis’ bark.
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Up until 1951, Southern Illinois University athletic teams were called by the nondescript moniker of “The Maroons,” because that was their color. But in 1951, the school selected one of the more exotic mascots in the game: the Saluki. The Saluki is the oldest pure-breed dog in the world. And it’s also known as the “Royal Dog of Egypt,” a fitting mascot for a school that resides in the part of Illinois known as “Little Egypt.”