NCAA approves two schools’ nickname changes

By Courtney Linehan

The NCAA approved nickname changes by Carthage College and Midwestern State University on Wednesday and removed those schools from its list of member institutions using “hostile and abusive” American Indian imagery.

Carthage will change its athletic teams nickname from “Redmen” to “Red Men” and will remove two feathers currently part of a school logo.

The new nickname, spokesman Robert Rosen said, is actually a return to the school’s original moniker, which was adopted because of Carthage’s sports teams’ red uniforms.

“The name was modified to two words to reconnect with that original meaning,” Rosen said. “In actual practice, we haven’t had any Native American imagery with the name since the 1980s.”

Midwestern State University elected to drop its “Indians” nickname, but was given until April 4, 2006, the conclusion of the basketball season, to remove that name from its basketball court.

By changing their names, both schools will no longer be prohibited from hosting NCAA postseason competitions. In August, the NCAA issued a policy prohibiting American Indian mascots, logos and nicknames from appearing in post-season competition; that ban also stipulated that schools with ‘hostile and abusive’ American Indian imagery could not host post-season contests.

Eighteen schools, including the University of Illinois, were on that original list. The Florida State Seminoles, Utah Utes and Central Michigan Chippewas all appealed their inclusion on the list and won. The North Dakota Fighting Sioux, Bradley Braves and Newberry College Indians appealed and lost.

“While the NCAA policy does not mandate that an institution change its mascot, nickname or imagery, the action Carthage and Midwestern State have taken is consistent with core governing principles of the Association, specifically the principles of cultural diversity and nondiscrimination,” Bernard Franklin, NCAA senior vice-president for governance and management, said in a press release.

The NCAA insists it does not intend to step on the autonomy of member institutions by forcing them to alter their mascots, logos or nicknames, but at least two schools argue it does just that. When Illinois appealed its inclusion on the list, much of the University’s claim said the policy interfered with the Board of Trustees’ work toward a “consensus resolution.”

“The basis of our request to be removed from the list was, as we said almost a month ago now, as an autonomous, statutorily-established governing body of the University, the Board of Trustees has self-determination over the policies of this University,” Illinois spokesman Tom Hardy said.

The University of North Dakota recently re-appealed, and its new appeal strongly states that the NCAA is abusing its power and unfairly picking and choosing which schools are affected and how the regulations are applied. North Dakota argues that the NCAA is “the only game in town,” and that a few member institutions are being forced to comply with rules that don’t overstep what the NCAA claims its role entails.

“Nowhere was it communicated when we became members of the NCAA that its Executive Committee would have the unilateral power to force us to spend literally millions of unbudgeted dollars in order to continue to be full participants in intercollegiate athletics,” the North Dakota appeal said.

Illinois continues to await a decision on its initial appeal. Hardy said no decision has been made yet regarding further steps if that appeal is denied.

“I think we’ll wait and see what comes from the NCAA before we talk about next steps,” Hardy said. “We’re focused on this part of the NCAA’s process, so we’ll wait to see what we hear back from the NCAA before we speculate about what we might do next. We know what our options are.”