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November 05, 1987

It is all very well to have a Trojan horse gallop around the track or to drag an uninterested bulldog in front of the rooting section, but how 'bout them Waves?

Pepperdine University, now turned 50 and reasonably proud of its basketball team, has never had a mascot. No one could settle on what a personified wave should look like, exactly. But the alumni and student government associations have coughed up $3,400 to have a professional design firm solve the problem.

Willie the Wave will make his official debut Nov. 17, when Pepperdine plays the Bulgarian National Basketball Team at the Malibu campus. Actually, Willie will be an 18-year-old freshman volunteer inside a costume that one student critic has said resembles "a mutant Easter bunny."

What's supposed to look like water, some say, looks more like fur.

There has been enough negative commentary that the name of the man sweltering inside the wave suit is not being revealed in order to spare him verbal and physical abuse between games.

"I think it's going to take time for people to get used to him," said Tricia Brodbine, assistant director of alumni relations, "but if we have a good season, I don't think he can fail. Our only concern is how people on the road are going to react when they see him."

And how, presumably, the Bulgarian National Basketball Team will react.

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