Ole Miss abandons search _ school won't have on-field mascot, officials say

Updated: October 9, 2003, 8:53 PM ET

OXFORD, Miss. -- University of Mississippi officials ended their search for a new mascot Thursday, citing lack of interest in the two proposed replacements for the ousted Colonel Rebel.

Ole Miss will have no mascot at sporting events, but will continue to license merchandise with Colonel Rebel, a white-haired old man who carries a cane and resembles a plantation owner, said Barbara Lago, a school spokeswoman.

In a vote to gauge interest in the proposed replacements, the university received just over 2,400 votes from the 40,000 students, faculty, staff, alumni, season ticket holders and athletic boosters who were eligible to vote, school officials said.

"It is clear from the responses received and from general public discussion that there is no community support for either of the proposed mascots," Chancellor Robert Khayat said. "Therefore, the matter is closed."

The vote was supposed to run through the weekend, but athletic director Pete Boone said the school decided to stop the polling early because of the lack of participation.

"More important to the teams than any mascot is the support of our Ole Miss family," Boone said. "I regret that this has become such a divisive issue. It is now time to move forward."

Lago said there were no plans to start the search for a new mascot next year.

"Rebel Bruiser," a younger, pumped-up version of the current colonel, was leading in the election, with 2,080 votes. "Rowdy Rebel," who resembles a musclebound version of the bald advertising icon Mr. Clean, had 344 votes.

Mississippi officials said a new mascot was needed because Colonel Rebel didn't look athletic or intimidating enough.

The removal of Colonel Rebel has been met with disapproval by many supporters, who say the school is trying to abandon its Southern traditions.

The university has stopped fans from waving Confederate battle flags at football games in recent years.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index