Missouri Southern's mascot, a lion, was selected in the fall of 1937, the year the institution opened as Joplin Junior College, and a lion as represented the athletic teams since. Bayred Vermillion, J.R. Gaue and some of their fellow football teammates on MSSU's first sports teams made the selection, according to G. K. Renner's In Pursuit of Excellence, a history of Missouri Southern published in 1993.
After weeks of voting and a flurry of ballots submitted on the final day, Missouri Southern now has a new mascot and a new name for that mascot as Roary was introduced at the Homecoming Picnic Friday, Oct. 5, 2012 on the MSSU campus.
Fans were asked to vote on names on the MSSU athletics website and they had their choice from a list of five names.
Those names included Leo, Larry, Lenny, Luke and Roary. Not originally in the list of names to vote for, Roary came from names that were submitted via the MSSU and Athletics Facebook pages.
An underdog to start, the fan base for Roary rose and with more than a thousand votes cast on the final day, Roary ended up on top taking 50 percent of the vote. The voting was so fast and furious on the final day that at 8 am, Leo had a 352-300 lead over Roary. By 2 pm, Roary had taken a commanding lead and when the final tally was taken, Roary won out by a margin of 931-748. More than 1,800 votes were cast in total.
The look of the new mascot costume, created by Street Characters, Inc., has some original touches, including a more approachable expression for young fans. The costume is also more breathable for the wearer.