Northern Illinois husky dog mascot "Diesel" will retire following the 2013 season, the university said in a news release.
Diesel and his owner, Tom Bonnevier have been to every Mid-American Conference stadium (except UMass), and to NIU road games throughout the Midwest. They will be honored during Senior Day celebrations Tuesday night at Huskie Stadium prior to the Huskies’ regular season finale versus Western Michigan.
Diesel recently found himself in the national spotlight after an ESPN camera spotted Diesel high-fiving a cheerleader on the NIU sidelines after a touchdown during NIU's 48-27 win over Ball State on Nov. 13.
“In many ways, Diesel has become the face of Huskie football over the past nine years,” NIU athletic director Sean Frazier said in the news release. “He’s been the constant figure on the sidelines representing NIU, whether home or away, at bowl games, spring games and more. He’s a fan favorite, the TV cameras love him and he’s a great dog. On behalf of Huskie Nation, I want to thank Tom and Diesel for everything they have done to represent Northern Illinois University.”
With Diesel stepping aside, NIU will introduce its new husky, “Mission,” Tuesday night during the first quarter of the game. Mission is a nearly two-year old Siberian husky donated to the university by John and Cassandra McKearn. His handlers will be members of the NIU ROTC program.
“I want to thank the McKearns for providing us with a worthy successor to Diesel, and MSG Rufus Beamon and the entire ROTC program for taking on the responsibility as Mission’s handlers,” Frazier said. “We look forward to enjoying hundreds of Huskie victories with Mission on our sidelines.”