Big Red statue unveiled

Big Red poses during the unveiling of the new Big Red statue outside of the Augenstein Alumni Center on Saturday. (Mike Clark/HERALD)

Trey Crumbie

Students and alumni were entertained by the WKU mascot in the Alumni Plaza in front of the Augenstein Alumni Center during the unveiling of a new bronze statue of Big Red on Saturday morning.

Rick DuBose, director of the WKU Alumni Association, began the ceremony by recognizing various personnel, including several people who have dressed up as Big Red over the years. 

“It’s good to see what once were the hidden faces of so many Big Reds here today,” J Moseley, president of the WKU Alumni Association, said.

President Gary Ransdell said Big Red is just one of the many unique entities that define WKU. 

“Nothing is contrived here,” Ransdell said. “All of our traditions, all of the things that define our personality as a university were created by Hilltoppers.”

Ralph Carey, who created Big Red as a student nearly 35 years ago, said he was surprised at the longevity of Big Red and thanked those who dressed up as Big Red for carrying on the tradition. 

Carey recalled a letter he received from Jim Richards, who coached the WKU basketball team from 1971 to 1978, after meeting him at a WKU basketball game in New York City. In the letter, Richards told Carey Big Red would continue to live on for the foreseeable future. Carey was skeptical at first but admitted that Richards might be right.

“…Maybe Big Red will be here long after I’m gone,” Carey said. “And that is something that doesn’t happen to people very often, and it’s special to me.” 

Brandon Davis, president of the WKU Young Alumni Council, cut the ribbon and removed the red cloth that covered the statue of Big Red. Davis said the statue had been in the works since the funding for the alumni center began.

“…And to finally see it happen today is absolutely amazing,” Davis said.

The Young Alumni Council raised $50,000 in private donations to make the statue a possibility.

Following the unveiling of the statue, members of the WKU Redshirts, a men’s a cappella group,  led the crowd in singing the WKU Fight Song twice.

Afterwards, people were invited to take pictures with the statue, tour the alumni center, and go to Smith Stadium to watch the annual Red and White spring game.

Russell Faxon, a WKU alumnus and the statue’s sculptor, said the creation process took nine months. Faxon said there was a photo shoot with Big Red to decide which pose best represented the mascot.

“I wanted to make sure I get [sic.] all those flops and folds and all the roundness that he is,” Faxon said.

Faxon is responsible for four other bronze sculptures on campus, including the statue of Edgar Allen Diddle in front of Diddle Arena and Robert Guthrie at the Guthrie Bell Tower. Faxon also sculpted another Big Red statue that will be placed in Downing Student Union this fall.