Western Illinois Leathernecks
WIU's nickname, the Leathernecks, and its mascot, the English bulldog, are taken from the traditions of the United States Marine Corps. The university has had permission to use the official nickname and mascot of the Corps since 1927, when Ray Hanson, then-athletic director and coach of the baseball, basketball and football teams, gained permission to use the symbols as a homage to his service in that military branch during World War I. Western Illinois University is the only non-military university to use a military nickname. WIU is also one of the three major state universities in Illinois to employ a dog as its mascot.
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