Creator of Auburn's Aubie mascot Phil Neel dies

The artist who created Auburn's tiger mascot Aubie has passed away.

Auburn said in a news release that Phil Neel, a former Birmingham Post-Herald artist, died Wednesday at age 84.

Neel, who lived in Pinson, created the cartoon tiger that appeared on football game programs for 18 years starting in 1959 with the Hardin-Simmons game.

His sons, Mike and Rick, both played football at Auburn and each won the Cliff Hare Award given annually to the school's top male student-athlete.

Athletic director Jay Jacobs says Neel gave Auburn "a wonderful gift when he created Aubie more than 50 years ago."

Aubie went from the pages to the sideline in 1979 at the Southeastern Conference basketball tournament.