BYU-Idaho administration removed the Viking statue of Thor from the John W. Hart Building.
The statue used to overlook the football stadium in December, but was recently given to a local high school in Idaho with a viking mascot.
Andy Cargal, news and broadcasting manager with university communicaitons, said, “There were several suggestions and the idea started early on to donate him to a local high schol that had a viking as a mascot.”
The issue was addressed at the President’s Q&A Feb. 1 explaining that with the redesign on the North end of the Hart building there was not place for him.
“He could’ve been moved to another building or something like that, but it was ultimately decided to let him have purpose at a school who actively uses that mascot currently, and so while it served us great for a number of years, we just decided to share the love and donate him to a school,” Cargal said.
The decision spurred some negative response from students, faculty and alumni.
“I grew here. It’s been a part of the community. It’s been a symbol of the university my entire life,” said Taylor Baker, a freshman studying political science. “When you take it away, it feels like you take part of the university’s meaning away.”
Spencer Ray played in front of Thor for two seasons as an offensive lineman for Ricks football during the 1997 and 1998 seasons.
Still a resident of Rexburg with his wife and two kids, Ray coaches a team in the university’s intramural league each fall to contribute to the university where he played.
“We talk about keeping Spirit of Ricks, but we are transitioning every symbol of Ricks College. It’s unfortunate,” Ray said.
Several faculty members who work in the Hart believed the statue was still there days after its removal.
To Scott Wood, a recreation management instructor, Thor stood for something more.
“I think that’s part of the Spirit of Ricks we keep talking about. To me it’s one of the last cutoffs from what the school used to be from when we were Ricks College Vikings and we had something to cheer about,” Wood said.
“I think it’s unfortunate because it gave students something to cheer behind. Having him gone as a symbol of the school — it’s no longer there — we’re nothin’,” Wood said.
Since his installment in 1972, Thor oversaw 72 of the university’s All-Americans in seven sports and seven national championships.
Niccol Hahn, a senior studying sociology, agreed with the decision to donate Thor.
“It was a meeting place in the Hart. We met by Thor. But I understand why they would get rid of Thor because we really aren’t using him, and there are different things at this school we focus on. So it can probably go to better use somewhere else,” Hahn said.
A senior studying biology, Devon Kienzle’s opinion coincided with the presidency’s reasoning and gave sport to the proposed new statue.
“I don’t know anything about the history of Thor or why we’re Vikings because we’re not Vikings… He does represent an important purpose as far as where Ricks came from, and was definitely important to the community. But we can probably find a better location for it than that main spot in the Hart,” Kienzle said.
“If they want to take away the history of Ricks, they might as well take the ‘1888’ off the shirts as well,” said Robert Atkinson, a junior studying international relations.
Giving Thor away added to the transition from Ricks College’s intercollegiate athletic program to BYU-I’s current intermural program on campus.
Of the several alternatives considered, the idea to donate Thor to a local high school whose mascot was also a viking came about early in the process and was the idea that resonated best with the administration.
The decision to donate Thor was based on charity over other reasons.
“There was no dislike of the mascot or anything like that.” Cargal said.