NCAA Says Tribe’s Support Won’t Save Generic
‘Indian’ Mascot at University of Louisiana-Monroe
A Louisiana tribe’s blessing won’t save the University of Louisiana-Monroe’s “Indian” mascot from the NCAA’s displeasure, so a new committee will study the mascot’s future.
ULM was one of 18 schools ordered by the NCAA to stop using American Indian mascots, images and logos by next month. The league has made exceptions to the order for some institutions, including Florida State University, because their local American Indian tribes approve and support the nickname.
But Dr. Bernard W. Franklin, the NCAA’s senior vice president of governance, told ULM that “the use of a generic Native American reference like ‘Indians’ or ‘Braves’ cannot be mitigated by the concurrence of any Native American tribe.”
University President James E. Cofer wrote a letter to alumni and supporters and says ULM asked Louisiana’s three federally recognized tribes — the Tunica-Biloxi, the Chitimacha and the Coushatta — to support the university’s current mascot. Only the Coushattas did so.
Franklin says if the university’s mascot was the Coushattas, the tribe’s support probably would be enough to keep it. However, he wrote, “it does not suffice as an endorsement of the use of the generic term Indian.”
ULM supporter Scott McDonald says Cofer’s letter was a vast improvement over what happened in 1999, when the school changed its name from Northeast Louisiana University without any notice.
“Communication allows people to see that this is a transparent process,” he says. “It’s important because a lot of people didn’t think that happened in the name change. The biggest distinction with the name change is that it was something that our administration at that time chose to do. This change is being forced upon us.”
The mascot committee held its first meeting Jan. 8. The committee includes athletes and other students, coaches and other faculty, alumni and members of the ULM Foundation, the Indian Athletic Foundation and the Alumni Association. ULM is also setting up a mascot Web site.
— Associated Press
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