Introduced in December 1998 at a men's basketball game, Jinx ushered in a new era of school spirit through his playful, warm personality and friendly smile.
Plenty of spots and new Jaguars merchandise were visible throughout campus as the excitement of an evolving university injected the sprawling campus with newfound enthusiasm and pride.
"It was intoxicating," said Jake Manaloor, student body president from 1998 to 2000. "Students, staff and faculty liked that they had something to rally around, and they liked the new concept, logo and look of it. It was fresh."
Jinx gained his identify after IUPUI's student newspaper, The Sagamore, held a naming contest in the fall of 1998. A student committee of Sagamore staff and student government representatives chose Jinx from more than 80 submissions. Junior Tricia Schmidt is credited with the submission and earned $300 for winning the contest.
The concept behind the name was to put a "jinx" on the other team in sporting contests and allow for him to be a teasing, taunting-type mascot. Manaloor, who was on the naming committee and heavily involved in conversations with the school's marketing and communications office, said that student government was concepting a variety of ways to make a splash with the introduction of the Jaguars nickname.
With a prominent city neighbor to the south just across White River, one of the ideas pushed for by student government was to adopt a jaguar for the Indianapolis Zoo. While some schools feature live animals as mascots, the idea was more about increasing community engagement and helping bring awareness for IUPUI.
"Obviously, bringing a live jaguar to the gymnasium wouldn't have been the best idea since sliced bread," Manaloor said with a laugh. "But we talked about trying to get that partnership with the Zoo."
While one of the unwritten rules of mascots is to take a vow of secrecy for one's identity, Manaloor admits to having the designation of being the first Jinx.
The costume's bulky head required Manaloor to see out of Jinx's mouth, and he described it as hot and difficult to get around in. Well, not that difficult.
A joking comment fueled by Manaloor's youthful hubris turned into reality as he ran the 1999 Indianapolis Mini Marathon in the full costume.
The 13.1-mile journey was filled with high-fives, hugs and failed attempts at hydration. Unable to remove the bulky head, Manaloor had to get creative for cooling off and tried to drink water through the helmet. By the end of the three-hour-plus run/walk, he and the suit were drenched in sweat.
"It's something I'll never forget," he said, smiling.
Nowadays, Jinx isn't running marathons or seen around campus much. While he hasn't bought a condo and headed to Florida for the winters, Jinx is in retirement. With Jawz and Jazzy around now, it's truly a special occasion if Jinx makes an appearance, like around IUPUI's 50-year anniversary celebration in 2019.
But Jinx's place in IUPUI lore is secure. He laid the foundation for the community to embrace the Jaguar name change and helped usher in a new era of the campus's expansion. His legacy fostered a proud spirit of IUPUI among its students, staff, faculty, alumni and fans.
"To have that presence and be able to send it out to campus, community and athletic events, I think it was a really big step," Holdaway said. "People were genuinely excited to see Jinx at events. That layer of brand recognition and brand awareness didn't exist prior to 1998."
Continue reading about the newest mascot additions and view the 'Tail' of the Tape of the three mascots: