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West Virginia University Wisconsin will allow Mountaineer to fire away

Thursday, September 05, 2002

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- West Virginia's Mountaineer mascot can shoot his musket at Saturday's football game against Wisconsin after all, school officials said yesterday.

Wisconsin athletic department officials had originally denied the mascot permission to fire the weapon at Camp Randall Stadium, saying UW-System policy prohibits weapons on campus.

Wisconsin athletic director Pat Richter asked chancellor John Wiley yesterday to make an exception to the policy. Wiley agreed.

"Obviously there was a segment of the population that was unhappy about it," Wisconsin athletic department spokesman Justin Doherty said of the initial decision.

"Hopefully we'll put this behind us and have a good football game."

West Virginia officials say the Mountaineer's musket fires powder, much like a starter pistol.

The mascot has been asked not to fire the gun inside basketball arenas and one football stadium, but the musket had never been banned before Wisconsin's decision, officials said.

The Mountaineer mascot first appeared at athletic events in the 1936-1937 school year and is a popular figure on West Virginia's campus. The Mountaineer is selected each year by the Mountain, the university's senior honorary. The Mountaineer's costume is custom tailored to fit the winner.

West Virginia officials did not immediately return a message The Associated Press left at the school's public relations office Wednesday.

Wisconsin and West Virginia meet Saturday at 11:10 a.m. at Camp Randall Stadium.

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