RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - After an overwhelming response to Richmond men's basketball's live spider naming contest, the fans have chosen a winner: Tarrant.
Named after the winningest coach in Richmond men's basketball history, the live spider will now patrol the sidelines much like her namesake, striking fear into all that enter the Robins Center.
This summer, the men's basketball staff began working with the biology department to acquire a live mascot for the only Division I team in America named after spiders. UR's blue tarantula arrived in the basketball offices this November, and has been a part of the Robins Center experience ever since, sitting at midcourt during warmups and behind the team bench during the game.
Over the past month, fans were invited to submit naming suggestions for the female tarantula. From the very beginning, she was destined to be named after a fierce coaching legend whose last name closely resembled the most intimidating form of spider. Because of her female form, she will go by "Tara" in the future.
Hall of Famer Dick Tarrant amassed 239 wins from 1981 to 1993, taking Richmond to five NCAA tournaments and four NIT appearances. In 1988, he led Richmond to its first Sweet 16 appearance, and in 1991 the Spiders became the first 15 seed to ever knock off a 2 seed, as Richmond downed Syracuse. He is the winningest basketball coach in Richmond history and was inducted into the Richmond Athletics Hall of Fame in the 1993-94 class.
"We have a unique name here at Richmond," Tarrant said. "When you talk about the Spiders, everyone knows you are talking about the Richmond Spiders. And it has been that way for a long time. People associate us with the spiders, and it's a great thing to have a real spider now."
Tara is a greenbottle blue Venezuelan tarantula that was bred in Utah. When she is not in the basketball offices, she is cared for by the biology department on campus. Staffers and students interested in the study of arachnids have used her presence and caretaking as an educational opportunity.
She is currently 3.5 inches long and she eats crickets and small roaches on a weekly basis. Her breed can live up to 10 years.