NCAA does about-face on use of `Seminoles'

Fla. State no longer banned from name use in title events


August 24, 2005|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

Seminoles will be welcome at NCAA tournaments after all.

The NCAA yesterday removed Florida State University from the list of 18 schools that were banned from using American Indian mascots, nicknames and imagery in national championship events. When that prohibition was announced three weeks ago, FSU administrators immediately denounced it and threatened to sue. Florida State was the first university to appeal the matter to the NCAA, and at least one other school will follow its lead.

"This is an outcome one would expect reasonable people to reach," Florida State athletic director Dave Hart said. "This is the right thing to do in this instance ... I now hope other universities will benefit in similar fashion from the appeal we submitted."

In June, the Seminole Tribe of Florida reiterated that it supported use of its tribal name by FSU, which is situated in Tallahassee, the state capital. An NCAA senior vice president acknowledged that tribal support as a "significant factor" in a statement announcing yesterday's decision.

"The decision of a namesake sovereign tribe, regarding when and how its name and imagery can be used, must be respected even when others may not agree," Bernard Franklin said in the statement. "This decision applies to the unique relationship Florida State University has with the Seminole Tribe of Florida. Requests for reviews from other institutions will be handled on a case-by-case basis."

A spokeswoman at Utah, where the Utes will be host to first- and second-round games in the 2006 NCAA men's basketball tournament, said that it plans to file an appeal to the NCAA.

Illinois, which played in the 2005 NCAA men's basketball tournament final, is the most prominent Division I institution affected by the prohibition after Florida State. Asked if Illinois plans an appeal, Thomas Hardy, a university spokesman, said: "We haven't made any decisions yet. We're still reviewing our options."

"Chief Illiniwek," dressed in what a university publication describes as "authentic American Indian regalia," has limited his performances to Illinois home games since 1989. Chief Osceola, riding on horseback and flinging a spear to the ground, is one of Florida State's football traditions.

The NCAA restrictions, which go into effect Feb. 1, 2006, forbid teams with American Indian nicknames from displaying them on team uniforms in the 88 national championships that are conducted on three levels. The ban does not extend to football bowl games.

Florida State, a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference, is a national power in football and a regular in the NCAA baseball tournament. It last went to the NCAA men's basketball tournament in 1998.

"For nearly 60 years, this university has proudly identified itself with the indomitable spirit of the Seminole Tribe of Florida," FSU president T.K. Wetherell said in a statement, "and we look forward to continuing our close relationship with this courageous tribe for years to come."

Speaking to the Associated Press, Wetherell said: "I'm ready to play football, start school and have classes begin ..."

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.