NCAA Mascot Ruling Could Affect Coverage

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The National Collegiate Athletic Association said last week that team names like Seminoles, Indians and Braves are abusive and hostile and that it will require schools who keep those names to obscure them during any NCAA-hosted championship.

It also said that schools with those names and mascots would not get to host a championship.

A spokeswoman said she did not believe the committee had taken up the issue of whether to encourage the league's broadcast partners to limit their references to the names. It is likely to be an issue, however.

At top sports cable net ESPN, for instance, a spokesman said the network had only recently learned of the decision, but that it would "warrant some discussion going forward."

"Colleges and universities may adopt any mascot that they wish, as that is an institutional matter," said University of Hartford President Walter Harrison, who chairs the committee. "But 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."

Starting immediately, schools participating in NCAA championships will not be allowed to wear their uniforms with the "abusive" team name or logo visible. The new policy prohibiting schools with "hostile or abusive mascots, nicknames or imagery" from hosting an NCAA championship takes effect Feb. 1, 2006.

And starting Aug. 1, 2008, the same images and names will have to be expunged from the uniforms of cheerleaders, dance teams, bands and mascots.

Public interest attorney and law professor John Banzhaf Tuesday praised the decision and saw it as more ammunition in his decades-long fight to change the name of the National Football League's Washington Redskins.

He recently put TV stations on notice in Washington and elsewhere that he would go after their licenses if they did not take steps to limit their use of the term when referring to the Washington franchise.

"The fact that the NCAA ban applies even to words like 'Braves,' 'Indians,' and 'Seminoles'--which are far less offensive than 'Redskins'--further strengthens his case," said Banzhaf, "because two different states and two federal agencies have found 'redskins' to be uniquely derogatory and racially offensive--more so than other American Indian words like 'Brave.'"

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