As far as University of Texas President Gregory L. Fenves is concerned, Bevo XV remains “a great symbol for the university” even though the longhorn mascot lunged out of his corral at the Sugar Bowl amid a crush of photographers and other onlookers.
“We take the safety very seriously, but we’re going to continue to have Bevo as our mascot,” Fenves said last week during a visit to the American-Statesman.
The Silver Spurs Alumni Association maintains a seven-figure liability insurance policy for Bevo, according to records obtained from UT by the Statesman under the Texas Public Information Act. The policy includes limits of $1 million per incident, $100,000 in damage to rented premises, $1 million in personal and advertising injury, and $2 million in aggregate coverage for the one-year policy period.
The alumni association selects the steer that serves as Bevo and trains members of the Silver Spurs, a student group, who help care for, train and handle the steer. Bevo, who turns 4 years old on Thursday, is owned by Betty and John T. Baker, operators of the Sunrise Ranch in Liberty Hill.
The UT president also signaled support for the steer earlier this month by visiting him at the ranch, where the 1,700-pound castrated bovine spends his days when not serving mascot duties. “It was a privilege to visit Bevo at his ranch,” Fenves tweeted above a photo of him leading the animal by a rope for a stroll.
— Greg Fenves (@gregfenves) January 12, 2019
Bevo clipped two photographers with his right horn and forced various onlookers to scramble out of harm’s way when he abruptly pushed through his corral before the New Year’s Day game in New Orleans between UT and the University of Georgia. Videos of the incident indicate that, but for a few inches, the photographers and a woman who leaped to safety might have been seriously injured. The incident occurred as Georgia’s mascot, a 62-pound English bulldog named Uga X, was being walked on a leash for a mascot-meets-mascot moment.
“He’s an incredible animal and a great symbol for the university,” Fenves said of Bevo. “Seriously, we’re always looking at the protocols for Bevo at public events. I don’t think they need to be revised. There were some peculiarities of the new situation and a very crowded environment. The Silver Spurs will just have to be more cognizant as they handle Bevo.
“It’s just the general issue of Bevo in large crowds and trying to keep him away from large crowds and at a safe distance,” Fenves said. “If you’ve seen him at our stadium, in the south end zone, there are very few people around him. You’ve got a fence around him. There’s a large distance between that fence and Bevo. The handlers are there. So it’s just being more cognizant and avoiding being close to crowds.”
— Danny Davis (@aasdanny) January 2, 2019
Ricky Brennes, executive director of the alumni association, told UT athletics officials in an email after the Sugar Bowl that an hour-by-hour itinerary prepared for the trip to New Orleans, the game and the return to Austin shows “that we plan for the well being and safety of Bevo in meticulous detail.” Among other things, the itinerary told the Silver Spurs when to deliver Bevo to the New Orleans Police Department’s horse stables for his overnight stays; when to feed, water and walk him; and to refrain from driving the Silver Spurs truck to bars in New Orleans.
“I will be coordinating with television and Georgia for Uga to come over and ‘meet’ Bevo,” Brennes wrote in his instructions to the Silver Spurs.
UT officials say Bevo is not given any sort of medication to stay calm at public events. He never travels by air.
“Bevo always travels on the road, in his trailer,” John Bianco, a UT spokesman, said in an email to the Statesman. “They plan out lengthy trips with multiple stops, but that’s his only mode of transportation.”
The records obtained by the newspaper show that university officials decided not to comment on a letter from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals urging Fenves “to retire Bevo and pledge not to use live-animal mascots in the future.” Several other people sent emails telling the UT president to put Bevo out to pasture for the safety of people and the animal alike.