Research was conducted on Michigan State’s mission, community, and traditions.
The result was an “approachable, fierce yet kind, man for all seasons” mascot.
The costume, with a cartoonishly oversized head, bulging muscles, and a facial expression that treads a fine line between cute and pugnacious, was introduced to MSU fans during the 1989 football season.
Sparty was an immediate hit, in part because the foam-rubber body parts, vinyl breastplate, and skirt have a freedom of movement that allow the anonymous student who portrays Sparty to be quite expressive despite the costume's fixed stare.
Sparty would reflect the university’s strength and character.
To introduce MSU's new mascot, six billboards were positioned around East Lansing announcing his Spartan Stadium debut.
Sparty appeared on the cover of the Wii version of NCAA Football 09, the first time a non-athlete was featured on it.
In 1985, MSU Alumni Association Graphic Designer Dave Giordan was asked to draw a muscular Sparty in full body armor.
Four years later, in 1989, a group came together to design and revamp the Sparty mascot.
Michigan State's teams have been the Spartans ever since.
While MSU students and alumni often refer to the Spartan statue as Sparty, the incarnation of Sparty with national visibility is that of a costumed mascot who appears at athletic events and other university-related functions.