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Flying with new feathers: new Charlie Cardinal costume makes debut

MUNCIE, Ind.---A staple of Ball State sports is flying with new feathers after he received a much-needed makeover. That staple, of course, is the one and only Charlie Cardinal.

“Over the years we’ve had some wear and tear on Charlie,” said Kevin Mullaney, Assistant Athletic Director. “He’s seen better days. The Alumni Association generously provided some funds to give Charlie the makeover that he needs.”

Those funds helped the local legend shed his feathers for just the fifth time in the past 53 years of his existence.

This new appearance signifies a change in more than just Ball State’s favorite bird. Charlie’s new look helps lead the charge for new Athletic Director Jeff Mitchell as he takes flight in his first year on the job.

“We are creating our own momentum in many ways,” Mitchell said. “As a symbolic gesture, can Charlie Cardinal be that in his new wardrobe? Absolutely. We’re excited about the energy that he brings to our game day atmosphere, and all of our sporting events.”

A change to a fixture could ruffle a few feathers. Thankfully, Mitchell and Mullaney feel reactions from in and around the nest have been positive.

“I think people have liked it,” Mitchell said. “There’s no shortage of people wanting to run up to him, take pictures, and give him high fives and pounds. I think we’re very pleased with what we’ve got.”

“We love Charlie,” Mullaney said. “Charlie is one of the greatest things about this department and this university. We really wanted to embrace him and give him the look that gives him the proper recognition. He hit the weights this off-season.”

Ball State students seem to be chirping at the same tone.

“I honestly prefer the new look,” said Cosmo Rodriguez, a sophomore at Ball State. “He looks more menacing and more like he’s ready to win a game.”

As Charlie finally spreads his new wings, Mullaney expects the look to stay perched.

“Charlie is a staple,” Mullaney said. “He is our rock. Student athletes come and go, but Charlie stays. We need to make sure we’re giving him the look that he needs.”

You can spot Charlie in his new threads at select future Ball State and Muncie community events.

Contact Andy Newman with comments at asnewman2@bsu.edu.