PIERRE S.D. — The mystery is -- somewhat -- solved about how Florida Sen. Marco Rubio came to don a University of Sioux Falls T-shirt and now baseball cap in social media posts.
One month ago, the Republican senator posted a photo to social media of him wearing a USF T-shirt -- with the familiar "Cougars" emblazoned across the chest -- while receiving a COVID-19 vaccination.
On Friday, Jan. 22, Rubio again sported USF merch, this time a purple baseball cap, while lambasting the Biden administration for an executive order to end the Keystone XL pipeline.
A campus official says it (the T-shirt, that is) may have been a big mistake.
"The whole thing is kind of a fluke that he wore the T-shirt the first time round," University of Sioux Falls spokeswoman Sarah Strasburg said Friday.
Strasburg said either a Senate staffer tracked down a T-shirt for the Florida senator to wear in a social media post, mistakenly searching Google for "USF" (i.e. the green-and-gold Bulls of the University of Southern Florida, a public school in Tampa), and ending up with the other USF, a private Christian college in South Dakota.
Or, she said, Rubio accidentally ended up with the workout shirt of South Dakota's Sen. John Thune, an avid basketballer whose wife, Kimberly, has sat on the USF board.
The university is still scratching its head.
"The longer explanation is the Senate gym does laundry evidently, and staff returned the shirt to Sen. Rubio," said Strasburg. "Or there's a University of South Florida that exists and he needed a T-shirt when he got vaccinated and he got that."
Another high-ranking campus official confirmed the school is still not certain the genesis of how Rubio came to wear a USF T-shirt in the photo that went viral on Dec. 20.
But college staff does know how Rubio got the purple hat with trademark Cougar that Rubio was seen wearing in a video post earlier on Friday, wherein he accuses President Joe Biden of "going down the wish-list of the far-left" for the president's signing of executive orders, including revoking the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline (an action Biden promised in the campaign he would do).
USF officials said, after the December photo, they'd sent a "care package" containing the hat and short "non-political" note to the Senator to good-naturedly let him know about "the other USF," said Strasburg.
Strasburg also noted the school was not endorsing Rubio's political positions.
"So why he chose to wear that cap and make his comment?" Strasburg asked. "That's the story."
Staff for Rubio did not respond to a request for comment, so the mystery continues.