The University’s official mascot, Charlie T. Cougar, has not always been so…official. Concordia University Chicago student-athletes have been known as the Cougars since October of 1933. Until then, no official team nickname was used, and teams were referred to by a number of different monikers including the Concordians, Maroons, Foresters, Teachers and the Pedagogs (aka the world’s worst mascot name—what would the costume have even looked like?).

Feeling the need to settle the confusion once and for all, in 1933 the student body led a process to select an official nickname. Each student submitted a paper ballot suggesting three team names based on the following considerations:

  • Characterize the teams' fighting qualities, speed and courage
  • Avoid a name already in use by any of the other Chicagoland schools
  • Select nickname that the University could use for decades to come

Thirty-one suggestions were received in total, leading to a second balloted vote among the top three most popular nominations: Cougars, Maroons and Foresters. The final results were printed in The Spectator, and Cougar won with 43 percent of the vote. The many reasons for choosing the Cougar were summed up in The Spectator editorial:

"The cougar is no piker! He is a powerful mountain-lion; muscular, tireless and sure-footed, he makes a fierce and relentless fighter. He isn't afraid to tackle some large-sized foes ... When he makes a charge, it's time to look out. 'He can take it'—and give plenty, too. He is apt to be a dangerous opponent at any time, for he feels right at home under many different conditions. Yes, a worthy namesake for Concordia's teams he is—this felis cougar."

Students first began to dress in cougar costumes around the time of Concordia-Chicago's 100th anniversary in 1964, and the mascot adopted the name Charlie T. Cougar. His initials (CTC) mimicked the acronym for Concordia Teachers College, the University's name at the time.

Former cougar head icon by Jim Braun BA '71

Charlie T. has been personified in various ways over time. By our (unofficial) count there have been at least eight versions of a Charlie T. costume, ranging from simple face paint to today’s fierce professional costume, and everything in between. Today, Charlie T. Cougar is portrayed by a current student that has been recruited by the Athletics Department for prolifically demonstrating their Cougar Spirit—but occasionally, a faculty or staff member has also filled in Charlie T.’s giant shoes!

The Cougars have also been represented by a cougar head icon since the late ‘60s, the first of which was developed by Jim Braun BA '71. "As an alumnus and former athlete, I already had (the logo) in the back of my mind before I came back to River Forest in 1983 as head football coach," said Braun. "Art students started to share some ideas inspired by (other schools) as a starting point."

Cougar head icon developed in 2018

In the fall of 2018, the University updated both the cougar head icon and mascot costume to coincide with the 85th birthday of Charlie T. Cougar. "This is so much more than creating a new logo," said Jeff Hynes, then-vice president for student life and intercollegiate athletics. "We have created visual elements that are rooted in tradition—by building off our previous logo that we have used for more than 30 years—and are also very intentional about connecting with our Christian mission."

No matter how much Charlie T’s look has changed over the years (some of them we’re glad to say goodbye to!), CUC fans have always been there to support their teams. Scroll through the photos below and pick your favorite. Go Cougars!

This article has been adapted from the original, written by former CUC athletic communications director Jim Egan.