Sun, Aug 07, 2005 - Page 24 News List

NCAA mascot rule stings Florida St.


This undated photo shows Florida State mascot Chief Osceola at a basketball game in Tallahassee, Florida. The NCAA on Friday banned the use of Native American mascots by sports teams during its postseason tournaments.


Florida State University president T.K. Wetherell called the NCAA's look at American Indian mascots a "non-issue" a week ago.

But after the NCAA made it an issue by banning such "hostile and abusive" symbols from its postseason events Friday, Wetherell reacted with fury.

"Florida State University is stunned at the complete lack of appreciation for cultural diversity shown by the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Executive Committee," he said in a blistering statement. "That the NCAA would now label our close bond with the Seminole people as culturally `hostile and abusive' is both outrageous and insulting."

For FSU and 17 other schools, including Illinois and Utah, the NCAA's action has far-reaching implications on and off the field.

The Executive Committee approved four policies to "send a message very strongly that we do not think these kinds of mascots are appropriate for NCAA championships," said Walter Harrison, chairman of the group of mostly college presidents that governs the NCAA.

The policies are:

An institution with "hostile and abusive, racial, ethnic, national origin mascots" will be banned from hosting any NCAA tournament game effective Feb. 1.

If such an institution had previously been predetermined to host, it must take "reasonable steps to cover up" any of those references.

Student-athletes can't have uniforms or paraphernalia with those images at NCAA championship events. Cheerleader, dance team and band member uniforms and paraphernalia with such references can't be worn at NCAA championship events. This won't be effective until Aug. 1, 2008.

None of the measures would affect FSU football.

In Division I-A, the NCAA doesn't run league championship games or bowl games. But Harrison said during Friday's teleconference announcing the policies, adopted Thursday night, that he hopes the Bowl Championship Series, the most lucrative and highest profile postseason football games, would follow the NCAA's lead.

Native American mascots

* Alcorn St. University (Braves)

*Central Michigan University (Chippewas)

* Catawba College (Indians)

* Florida St. (Seminoles)

* Midwestern St. (Indians)

* University of Utah (Utes)

* Indiana University-Pennsylvania (Indians)

* Carthage College (Redmen)

* Bradley University (Braves)

* Arkansas St. (Indians)

* Chowan College (Braves)

* University of Illinois (Illini)

* University of Louisiana-Monroe (Indians)

* McMurry University (Indians)

* Mississippi College (Choctaws)

* Newberry College (Indians)

* University of North Dakota (Fighting Sioux)

* Southeastern Oklahoma State University (Savages)

Bob Burda, a BCS spokesman, said he is unaware of that item being up for discussion.

Even if his school's signature sport is unfazed, at least for now, Wetherell said his understanding of the rules infers FSU should be ashamed of its treatment of the Seminole name and symbols. He said he finds that especially distressing given the Seminole Tribe of Florida recently endorsed and supported the school.

"National surveys have shown in recent years that an overwhelming majority of Native Americans are not offended by the use of Native American names and symbols," Wetherell said. "In making its decision, the Executive Committee has been swayed by a strident minority of activists who claim to speak for all Native Americans. It is unconscionable that the Seminole Tribe of Florida has been ignored."

Max B. Osceola Jr., a member of the Seminole Tribe of Florida's Tribal Council, which unanimously adopted a resolution on June 17 supporting the school, was similarly indignant.

"Here's another example of non-Indians telling Indians what's good for them," he said. "No one from the NCAA came to our tribe to ask us directly. ... These are people who never lived a day on the reservation who are now saying how we should or should not use our name."

Charlotte Westerhaus, the NCAA's vice president for diversity and inclusion, said the organization was "very aware" of the Seminole Tribe of Florida's stance, but said there are other Seminole tribes who aren't supportive or appreciative.

This story has been viewed 6782 times.

Comments will be moderated. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned.

TOP top