INDIANAPOLIS - The NCAA banned the use of American Indian mascots by sports teams during its postseason tournaments, but will not prohibit them otherwise.
The NCAA’s executive committee decided this week the organization did not have the authority to bar Indian mascots by individual schools, committee chairman Walter Harrison said Friday.
Nicknames or mascots deemed “hostile or abusive” would not be allowed on team uniforms or other clothing beginning with any NCAA tournament after Feb. 1, said Harrison, the University of Hartford’s president.
“What each institution decides to do is really its own business” outside NCAA championship events, Harrison said.
“What we are trying to say is that we find these mascots to be unacceptable for NCAA championship competition,” he added.
At least 18 schools have mascots the NCAA deem “hostile or abusive,” including Florida State’s Seminole and Illinois’ Illini. The full list of schools was not immediately released.
Not all schools with Indian-related nicknames are on that list. NCAA officials said some schools using the Warrior nickname do not use Indian symbols and would not be affected.
North Carolina-Pembroke, which uses the nickname Braves, will not face sanctions. NCAA president Myles Brand explained said the school’s student body has historically admitted a high percentage of American Indians and more than 20 percent of the students are American Indians.
Schools on the list could still appeal.
“I suspect that some of those would like to having a ruling on that,” Brand said. “But unless there is a change before Feb. 1, they will have to abide by it.”
Major college teams also would not be subjected to the new rules because there is no NCAA Divsion I-A tournament or playoff.
Vernon Bellecourt, president of the National Coalition on Racism in Sports and Media, was pleased with the postseason ban but had hoped for even stronger action.
“We would have hoped the NCAA would have provided the moral leadership on this issue, but obviously they’ve chosen to only go halfway,” said Bellecourt, a member of the Anishinabe-Ojibwe Nation in Minnesota.
The NCAA two years ago recommended that schools determine for themselves whether the Indian depictions were offensive.
Florida State, for example, has received permission from the Seminole tribe in Florida to use the nickname. That, however, will not suffice.
“Other Seminole tribes are not supportive,” said Charlotte Westerhaus, the NCAA vice president for diversity and inclusion.
Among the schools to change nicknames in recent years over such concerns were St. John’s (from Redmen to Red Storm) and Marquette (from Warriors to Golden Eagles).
The NCAA plans to ban schools using Indian nicknames from hosting postseason events. Harrison said schools with such mascots that have already been selected as tournament sites would be asked to cover any offensive logos.
Such logos also would be prohibited at postseason games on cheerleader and band uniforms starting in 2008.