NCAA takes political correctness too far

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 29, 2005

Just when you thought that political correctness has gone too far, you can always count on the NCAA to take it to another level.

On Friday the NCAA ruled that schools with mascots, nicknames or imagery deemed hostile or abusive to racial/ethnic/nationality groups must cover those mascots, nicknames and imagery when participating at any of the 88 NCAA-sponsored championships beginning with the NCAA basketball tournament.

The policy takes effect Feb. 1, 2006.

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Even band members and cheerleaders will be barred from using American Indians on their uniforms beginning in 2008.

"As a national association, we believe that mascots, nicknames or images deemed hostile or abusive in terms of race, ethnicity or national origin should not be visible at the championship events that we control," said Walter Harrison, chair of the Executive Committee and president at the University of Hartford.

The policy also will prohibit such schools like Florida State from being host to an NCAA tournament until it changes its nickname.

Florida State is one of 18 teams in the NCAA that have Native American mascots. Two schools have already abandoned their Native American nicknames for something more politically correct. The St. John's Redmen became the Red Storm and the Marquette Warriors are now the Golden Eagles.

The new policy already has some schools like Florida State seeing red.

Florida State president T.K. Wetherell already is threatening legal action to keep his school’s nickname intact.

"I intend to pursue all legal avenues to ensure that this unacceptable decision is overturned, and that this university will forever be associated with the 'unconquered' spirit of the Seminole Tribe of Florida," he said in a written statement.

Florida State went out of its way to get the blessing from tribal elders of the Florida Seminoles.

Chief Max Osceola told Florida lawmakers last year that his nation does not "consider it derogatory, demeaning or insulting."

In fact Osceola said that the NCAA's ruling was just like history; it left the natives out.

"You have a committee made up of non-natives telling people that they can not use a native name when you have a native tribe – a tribal government, duly elected and constituted – that said they agree with Florida State," he told the Tallahassee Democrat.

But an Oklahoma Seminole tribe said it was offended by Florida State's usage.

The good news for FSU is that football will not be affected by the new ruling since the NCAA does not have a championship format Division I-A football. It will be affected in baseball and softball, which Florida State has consistently been apart and host of championship regionals.

Being a native Floridian, I just could not see Florida State as anything else other than the Seminoles. Obviously Wetherell can't either considering the school's mascot has been in place since 1947.

The NCAA has overstepped its bounds in trying to be politically correct.

Something tells me the NCAA is going to get scalped on this move.

Kevin Taylor is sports editor of The Greenville Advocate. E-mail him at or call (334) 383-9302 ext. 122.