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— Arkansas State University is getting closer to picking a new mascot.

A committee responsible for presenting a new mascot for final approval has narrowed its choices to three concepts: Red Wolves, Ridge Riders and an Express Train idea.

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"We're slowly narrowing our choices down, but I think it's important ... to understand that we're not there yet," committee chairman Jim Pickens said. "We're still in the process of looking at maybe ... four or five different renderings for each one of those theme areas."

The panel narrowed the choices to 12 about six weeks ago; about 1,500 suggestions were submitted by the public.

"Beautiful designs, a lot of designs that we can build on and that we can change and that we can modify if we want to" are what the committee seeks, committee member Carrie White said.

Jamie Skiles from Phoenix Design Works presented committee members with images that could be used with some of the mascot choices.

The university has to shed its Indians nickname and mascot to conform to NCAA regulations.

Skiles is to present more detailed imagery for the three nicknames the when the panel meets next on Jan. 30.

Pickens said the committee could pick a recommendation at the end of the month. But he said the work would likely last through February or longer.

"I came into this totally unbiased. I'm still not biased in this process. I don't know what we need to do, but the underlying theme of the whole thing is we want a product that ASU can be proud of," Pickens said.

Arkansas State fan Harry Harrell said he is pleased with the selection process and that he's is excited at the prospect of the school getting a fresh mascot. He said he's leaning toward one of the proposals.

"I like the train image because trains have been a byproduct of Arkansas State University since the founding in 1909. Nearly every student has been harassed or inconvenienced by a train," Harrell said, laughing.


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