An irritated fan punched Goldy Gopher in the face during a menâÄôs gymnastics meet Saturday night at the Sports Pavilion.
During the meet, the University of Minnesota mascot sat behind Douglas Dokken, 60, and started âÄúmessing with him,âÄù witness Barry Colthorpe said. Goldy tapped Dokken on the shoulder and ruffled his hair.
Colthorpe said Dokken was ignoring GoldyâÄôs antics, but within a couple of minutes, he snapped, turned around and punched Goldy in the face.
Goldy froze, but within moments of the first punch, Dokken wailed another, forcing Goldy to leave the area.
âÄúI think it was clearly amusing âÄî itâÄôs not something you see every day,âÄù Colthrope, 27, said. âÄúIt was just two people fighting, but if one of them is dressed up as a 7-foot gopher, then itâÄôs pretty amusing.âÄù
Goldy immediately talked to his supervisor and the police officer who was already stationed at the event. He is not reported to have been hurt, but the mask was damaged.
Security personnel arrested Dokken as soon as the meet finished.
Dokken was issued a citation for disorderly conduct and a trespass warning banning him from the Sports Pavilion and Williams Arena for a year, University police Lt. Troy Buhta said.
âÄúIt was something I deeply regret,âÄù Dokken said. âÄúIt was a moment of temporarily being upset, and I should have just walked out of there.âÄù
Dokken said he was glad no one was hurt.
Buhta said during his 14 years in the department, he has never seen Goldy assaulted. He said Goldy gets jumped on by fans, but not out of malice.
Garry Bowman, program director for Intercollegiate Athletics, also said in the four years heâÄôs worked at the University, he is not aware of anyone ever striking Goldy.
Ellen Sunshine, another witness, said Goldy grabbed her arm and tried to get her to poke Dokken as well.
âÄúI know Goldy is all in fun, but he did kind of overstep a little bit,âÄù Sunshine said. âÄúThe way that Goldy was in his face would make anyone uncomfortable.âÄù
Sunshine also said she has seen Dokken at events before, calling him âÄúa really big supporter of the gymnastics team.âÄù
Both Colthorpe and Sunshine said the scuffle didnâÄôt cause too much of a disturbance to the meet.
âÄúItâÄôs unfortunate because there were family and children probably present, so it was too bad it had to happen in a crowd like that,âÄù Buhta said.