FSU fights for Seminole nickname amidst tribe's differing opinions

INDIANAPOLIS: The NCAA?s decision this month to ban ?hostile and abusive? American Indian mascots from college sports championship games has at least one major university rallying supporters and vowing to fight.

INDIANAPOLIS: The NCAA?s decision this month to ban ?hostile and abusive? American Indian mascots from college sports championship games has at least one major university rallying supporters and vowing to fight.

Florida State University (FSU) spent much of this week trumpeting the fact that its mascot of choice has the support of the Seminole Tribe of Florida. In a statement, FSU president TK Wetherell said the NCAA's decision is "outrageous and insulting," and added, "I intend to pursue all legal avenues to ensure that this unacceptable decision is overturned."

Gail Dent, associate director of PR for the NCAA, said the association is actively soliciting feedback from targeted schools. "The door is open for ongoing communication if a school would like to make a case on why they should be allowed to continue what's happening," she said.

The new guidelines will go into effect in February 2006, but affected universities have until then to appeal the decision.

Of the 18 colleges and universities singled out by the NCAA, only FSU has taken public steps to fight the ban. Of the two other largest schools, the University of Utah (Utes) said that it is still considering the issue; The University of Illinois (Illini) did not return a call before press time.

Complicating FSU's message is the fact that The Independent Traditional Seminoles (ITS), a group that (unlike the Seminole Tribe of Florida) has never made any treaties with the US government, is in fact opposed to the use of Native American mascots, including FSU's.

In a message relayed to PRWeek through a liaison, ITS' spiritual leader, Bobbie C. Billie, said those who use such mascots are "abusing and harassing indigenous people every day."

Franklin Murphy, the AVP of university relations for FSU, said he had not yet heard of Billie's objections, but said "of course we'll take that into account."

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