NCAA Rejects American Indian Mascot Appeals From 3 Universities

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Mon May 1 12:56:32 UTC 2006

>>From the Chronicle of Higher Education,
Monday, May 1, 2006

NCAA Rejects Mascot Appeals From 3 Universities

The National Collegiate Athletic Association denied final appeals on
Friday from three universities seeking to continue using American Indian
mascots and nicknames that the association has deemed to be "hostile and
abusive." The ruling, by the NCAA's Executive Committee, means that
Indiana University of Pennsylvania, the University of Illinois at
Urbana-Champaign, and the University of North Dakota will not be allowed
to serve as hosts for NCAA postseason tournaments unless they drop their
American Indian mascots and team nicknames.

One other institution, Bradley University, won its appeal with the NCAA.
Bradley dropped its Indian mascot and logos more than a decade ago and
uses its "Braves" moniker generically. Last August, after a five-year
review of Indian mascots, the NCAA ordered 18 colleges to stop using
American Indian nicknames during postseason competition. After Friday's
ruling, seven colleges remain on a list of institutions that are banned
from serving as hosts for postseason games because they have not changed
their nicknames (The Chronicle, August 5, 2005). Since last fall, the NCAA
has removed 11 colleges from the list. Some institutions, including
Central Michigan University, Florida State University, and the University
of Utah, were taken off after they provided the NCAA with written
endorsements from American Indian tribes in their states.

In written statements released on Friday, officials from the University of
Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the University of North Dakota criticized
the NCAA's decision. Both universities are considering legal action
against the NCAA to keep their names without penalty. Indiana University
of Pennsylvania officials said in a written statement that they would
examine whether they should keep their university's nickname, the
"Indians." Illinois officials said that a ban on holding NCAA postseason
events would put Illini athletics programs at a competitive disadvantage
and could prevent the university from being able to recruit the best
athletes and coaches.

The ruling could have an immediate impact on Illinois's athletics program.
The Illini men's tennis team, ranked among the nation's top 10 programs,
was expected to be host for early rounds of the NCAA tournament beginning
this month. Now the team may not be able to play postseason home matches.
Last fall Illinois officials won an appeal from the NCAA to keep using the
university's "Illini" and "Fighting Illini" nicknames. The latest appeal
involved its Chief Illiniwek mascot, which NCAA officials still consider
hostile and abusive. The NCAA denied North Dakota's appeal to keep using
its "Fighting Sioux"  nickname after hearing from a Sioux leader last week
who said his tribe opposed the university's use of its name.

Charles E. Kupchella, president of the University of North Dakota, said in
the written statement released on Friday that he was "baffled" by the
NCAA's "arbitrary and capricious" ruling. He said the university plans to
consider "legal and other options" with the state's board of higher
education and North Dakota's attorney general. North Dakota, which
traditionally has one of the best hockey programs in the country, often is
host for NCAA tournament games in its $100-million Ralph Engelstad Arena.
The facility has thousands of images of the university's Fighting Sioux
logo emblazoned on the walls and on the gymnasium floor. To hold NCAA
postseason games there now, the university must change its nickname and
cover up those images.

Myles Brand, the NCAA's president, said at a news conference on Friday
that the rulings were final. Asked how the NCAA's rulings would hold up if
they were challenged in court, he said that the association "feels very
confident in its position and will defend it to the utmost." The colleges
that remain on the NCAA's banned list are permitted to keep using their
American Indian nicknames and mascots during regular-season play.

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