“Sparty is the mascot for the entire university,” says Clint Stevens, director of the Michigan State University Alumni Association’s Sparty Mascot Program. “A lot of mascots are born out of athletic departments. Sparty was born in the alumni association.
“We’re not an athletics-only mascot. We represent MSU across the state and nation.”
Sparty gets 750 to 800 requests a year for appearances at everything from weddings and funerals to birthdays and graduations.
“We do about 460 events per year, and only 132 of those are athletic events.” Forty percent of those occur in the summer when MSU isn’t in session.
Stevens says only about five percent of Sparty’s time is spent on the sidelines or courtsides of Spartans athletic events.
“We go out and try to connect with as many Spartans and future Spartans as we can and help other organizations connect people to MSU and bring people to their events.”
Stevens describes Sparty as the “walking embodiment of MSU” and adds that “Disney has Mickey Mouse; we have Sparty. When we go places and interact with people, we can change their life for the better and make them a Spartan for life.”
Sparty recently completed some training with Mickey Mouse.
“We partnered with the people who train Disney’s characters, and we got the same education their employees get about protecting the brand and doing the right things and really caring for something that’s not really yours.”
Two of Sparty’s missions are to cultivate a love for MSU in young people and to represent MSU where MSU can’t be.
“Coaches come and go; players come and go. Sparty is forever. We can be asked to be a part of a Spartan’s entire life.”
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