NCAA Takes Aim At Indian Mascots

Florida State University - Seminoles logo, with highlights, graphic element on white AP

Fed up with what it considers "hostile" and "abusive" American Indian nicknames, the NCAA announced Friday it would shut those words and images out of postseason tournaments, a move that left some school officials angry and threatening legal action.

Starting in February, any school with a nickname or logo considered racially or ethnically "hostile" or "abusive" by the NCAA would be prohibited from using them in postseason events. Mascots will not be allowed to perform at tournament games, and band members and cheerleaders will also be barred from using American Indians on their uniforms beginning in 2008.

Major college football teams are not subject to the ban because there is no official NCAA tournament.

Affected schools were quick to complain, and Florida State — home of the Seminoles — threatened legal action.

"That the NCAA would now label our close bond with the Seminole people as culturally 'hostile and abusive' is both outrageous and insulting," Florida State president T.K. Wetherell said in a statement.

"I intend to pursue all legal avenues to ensure that this unacceptable decision is overturned, and that this university will forever be associated with the 'unconquered' spirit of the Seminole Tribe of Florida," he added.

The committee also recommended that schools follow the examples of Wisconsin and Iowa by refusing to schedule contests against schools that use American Indian nicknames.

While NCAA officials admit they still can't force schools to change nicknames or logos, they are making a statement they believe is long overdue. Eighteen mascots, including Florida State's Seminole and Illinois' Illini, were on the list of offenders.

Those schools will not be permitted to host future NCAA tournament games, and if events have already been awarded to those sites, the school must cover any logos or nicknames that appear.

"Certainly some things remain to be answered from today, and one of those things is the definition of what is 'hostile or abusive,'" said Tom Hardy, a spokesman at Illinois.

The NCAA did not give a clear answer on that.
  • Jill Preschel

Comments