Monte's little sidekick Mo won't be on the field this year at the University of Montana Grizzlies games.

"I don't want to make a big deal out of it because Mo might be back at some point," said Brynn Molloy, assistant athletic director for marketing and communications, on Monday.

Mo debuted in 2009 as a pint-sized buddy to the popular bear mascot Monte. At the time, UM noted it had wanted to expand its mascot program.

This year, Molloy said the youngster who wore the Mo suit had graduated (not from college), had a busy schedule and was jumping out of the costume and onto other activities.

"He was ready to pursue everything that a kid should be pursuing outside of the suit," Molloy said of Mo, whose identity stays under wraps.

She also said UM is focusing on growing the Monte mascot.

"The mascot program is constantly evolving, (and we) made the choice this year to focus on getting Monte back into the Capital One-type competitions, getting his name big, and coming up with creative ways to bring a Mo or Mo-esque personality in back down the road," Molloy said.

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The original Mo was an elementary school gymnast and superb tumbler.

Molloy said UM has had two Mos since the mascot debuted, and they've done most of the football games as well as a handful of soccer, volleyball and basketball games.

"It's a kid in there, so we had to be respectful of other commitments with his family and being a kid," she said.

Mo didn't earn money for performing, but Molloy said he got game tickets in exchange for his volunteer antics and gymnastics.

The Monte mascot has been a small moneymaker for UM, and the dollars the bear earns have helped maintain his pricey costume.

"The university owns the Monte image and brand," said Erika Palmer, UM director of licensing, late Monday.

However, she said she would need to investigate to be precise about how much the trademark encompasses.

She could not immediately confirm whether UM controls the Mo brand as well; UM works with a collegiate licensing company in Atlanta, and she said it would have the details on both mascots, but that it was closed at press time.

At least this year, Mo will be on sabbatical, and Monte will have the stage all to himself.

"I know that they just wanted to focus on Monte and go back in that direction, but not necessarily let go of Mo," Palmer said.

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