Before the Mountaineers huddle up for the Gold-Blue Game, West Virginia University fans can help welcome new Mountaineer mascot Michael Squires during the Passing of the Rifle Ceremony at 3 p.m. Friday (April 18) in the Mountainlair Vandalia Lounge.

Squires, a sophomore speech pathology and audiology major from Clarksburg, was named WVU s 2008-09 mascot March 3 during the mens basketball game against the University of Pittsburgh. He will officially become the Mountaineer when the musket is passed from Brady Campbell.

Campbell, a wood science and technology student from Charleston, is completing his second year as the WVU mascot.

The Passing of the Rifle gives closure for the Mountaineer,Campbell said.Its going to be bittersweet. Im excited that Michael Squires is the new mascotI know hell do a great jobbut Im sad to give up the position.

The ceremony comes one day before the annual Gold-Blue spring football scrimmage (kickoff is at 12:30 p.m. Saturday), when Squires takes his first sprint across Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium.

The Passing of the Rifle is something that everyone in the position to win (the mascot competition) thinks about,Squires said.Its the final dot on the �€~I,the final cross on the �€~T.

Squiresand Campbells family and friendsalong with WVU administrators and representatives from the athletic department, Mountain Honorary, Alumni Association, cheerleading squads, WVU Pep Band and WVU Dance Teamhave been invited to attend the ceremony.

The mascot symbolizes the proud and rich heritage of the Mountain State and its people,said Sonja Wilson of Student Affairs.This event is important because it honors two students who have displayedand will continue to displaythe Mountaineer spirit that is spread throughout the great state of West Virginia.

The Passing of the Rifle Ceremony began eight years ago, but the Mountaineer first appeared at WVU sporting events in the late 1920s. The first official Mountaineer was selected by Mountain, the prestigious senior honorary, in 1936. A committee made up of students, athletic officials, faculty and staff chooses the mascot from the student body.