The Nittany Lion is more than a mascot.

The Nittany Lion is not only a symbol of Penn State athletics. He does more than push-ups and crowd surfing at football games. He is an ambassador who makes more than 250 public appearances every year and represents the long-standing traditions of Penn State.

Meet the men who wore the suit.

Since 1939 more than 40 proud Penn State students have ruffled the Lion's ears and worn the blue and white scarf. This documentary introduces you to 13 former mascots and several hopefuls.

Explore the rich history of the Nittany Lion -- from the physical demands to the relationships with fans, especially the youngest ones. And follow in the footsteps of the newest Lion as he prepares for his debut in front of 110,000 enthusiasts inside Beaver Stadium.

This Lion has heart.

Heart of the Lion reveals the depth of character and the range of talent that the Lion Mascot must have in order to fulfill his dream and carry on the Penn State tradition.


Watch the Trailer

<img src="images/promo.jpg" width="480" height="290" alt="The Nittany Lion mascot looking at the camera and holding up his index finger to indicate that Penn State is number one.">


January 5, 2010, 2:16 pm

W. Thomas Kelly

Gene Whetstone was, in fact, the first Nittany Lion, and he ordered the suit, I believe. He wore it for one football game at Penn's Franklin Field. Shortly thereafter he spotted me in Rec Hall and called me over. He said "Kelly, try this on". It was the Lion's suit and it fit. Thus, I became the LION. What fun ! My fraternity roommate was Jimmy Leyden who was the Blue Band Drum Major who tossed the baton in high fashion. We put on many skits with cheer leaders including those of opposing teamsI I continued as Lion until I transferred to the Harvard Business School in early1942. (Thus, I never graduated from Penn State and I don't appear in our year book) After I transferred Les Thurston of our fraternity (Beta Theta Pi) continued as the Lion, I believe. By the way, i do believe that the original Lion suit as purchased by Gene Whetstone was a better rendition of a Nittany Lion than the current one in use. There must be several pictures of the original suit from past years. The Beta House archives probably have some. Please give my best the Gene Whetstone. Tom Kelly, 1942 Graduating Class

January 17, 2010, 2:18 pm

Suzanne Mutschler

We look forward to purchasing a copy of this documentary. We would like to note one thing. Although it is part of the criteria that the lion not speak while in costume, we attended a homecoming parade in the fall of 1975, and our daughter, who was one year old at the time, was holding her baby bottle. The lion took it from her and she began to wail! It was not offensive to us, her parents, at all, but being a true gentleman, he apologized for taking it and making her cry. We have photos of the moment and hold the lion in very high regard because he DID speak and apologize for this humorous moment. It meant a lot to us, especially my husband, a 1976 PSU architectural engineering grad.

The Nittany Lions

Who was the Nittany Lion when you were at Penn State?


African Lion

Richard Hoffman 1922-1923

Leon Skinner 1927


Nittany Lion

Former Nittany Lions 1939-1976
Name Year(s)
Eugene Wettstone 1939
Donald Newberry 1939
George Terwilliger 1939-1940
Tom Kelly 1941-1942
Robert Ritzmann 1942-1946
Peter Bates 1945-1946
Clark Sharon 1946-1947
Wendell Lomady 1947-1949
Michael Kurowski 1949-1950
John Waters 1950-1951
Alex Gregal 1951-1954
Alfred Klimcke 1954-1957
William Hillgartner 1957-1958
John Behler 1957-1960
Jack Lesyk 1960-1961
Paul Seltzer 1962-1964
Edwin Parkinson 1964-1965
Martin Serota 1965-1967
Danny Kohlhepp 1967-1969
David Lacey 1969-1971
David Brazet 1971-1972
James Schaude 1972-1973
Former Nittany Lions 1973-2009
Name Year(s)
Saverio "Sam" F. Mirarchi 1973
Robert Welsh 1973-1975
Andy Bailey 1975-1977
Cliff Fiscus 1977-1978
Norman Constantine 1978-1980
Roy Scott 1980-1982
Dave Dailey 1982-1984
Rob Sterling 1984-1986
Doug Skinner 1986-1988
Peter Garland 1988-1990
Todd Shilkret 1990-1991
Tim Durant 1991-1993
Ricky Williams 1993-1995
Brad Cornali 1995-1996
Nick Indeglio 1996-1998
Marty Duff 1998-2000
Chuck Kimble 2000-2002
Mike Zollars 2002-2003
Stephen Soung 2003-2005
Dave Johnson 2005-2007
James Sheep 2007-2009
Clint Gyory 2009 --

The Funders

Thank you to everyone who contributed to making this documentary possible.


Major Funding Provided by:

Penn State Alumni Association

Lion's Pride

Penn's Cave and Wildlife Park

The Student Book Store

Kolhepp Stone Centers


Lion Book

The Nittany Lion: An Illustrated Tale

by Jackie R. Esposito and Steven L. Herb (1997)


Get your copy at Penn State Press

Press Room

Press Release

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Jeff Hughes
Executive Producer

Greg Petersen
WPSU Director of Programming Services