Texas mascot Bevo forced into retirement after cancer diagnosis

Bevo XIV is being retired as Texas' mascot after a cancer diagnosis.

After falling ill last week and missing Texas’ triumphant victory over Oklahoma, Bevo has been diagnosed with cancer and forced into immediate retirement.

Officially, Bevo XIV — the 2,100-pound steer — has been the Longhorns’ mascot since 2004 when he was 2 years old. According to a release sent out by the school Tuesday, a preliminary diagnosis of bovine leukemia virus last week was recently confirmed by several of the state’s top veterinarians and Bevo’s longtime veterinarian, Dr. John Tarlton.

It was then decided to retire Bevo from his role as mascot, in the interest of his health.

"Moving forward, [Bevo] will rest comfortably on the ranch and in the company of John T. and Betty Baker, the owners and caretakers of both BEVO XIV and his predecessor BEVO XIII," according to the release.

"Bevo XIV is a special animal," said Ricky Brennes, executive director of the Silver Spurs and Bevo XIV’s regular traveling partner, via the release. "He truly embraced his role and loved engaging with people at games and special events and at his ranch — where he will continue to live. He was clearly the leader of the herd."

Bevo XIV was a part of some memorable moments in Texas football history, including back-to-back Rose Bowl victories, the second of which in January 2006 resulted in the Longhorns winning the national championship. He was also a distinguished guest at many special events, including the second inauguration of President George W. Bush.

A search for Bevo XV will begin immediately, the school announced, with plans to have the new mascot on the football field for the 2016 season, including the traditional Thanksgiving game, which will be the 100th anniversary of Bevo’s first appearance at a Texas football game. 

Bevo’s absence at last Saturday’s Red River rivalry win over Oklahoma at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas was felt by the team’s players, including freshman linebacker Malik Jefferson.

"We love Bevo," Jefferson told reporters after the game. "We were praying for him to get better and if he doesn’t, God will take him. It’s a sad thing he wasn’t here. It was weird because that’s tradition and everybody loves that guy."

MORE NEWS: Want stories delivered to you? Sign up for our College Football newsletters.