Monday, August 8


So the NCAA has banned "hostile or abusive" Native American nicknames from appearing in postseason tournaments. That includes Florida State University, my alma mater and the alma mater of my husband, son and 72 other family members.

FSU president T.K. Wetherell's response:

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.- Florida State University is stunned at the complete lack of appreciation for cultural diversity shown by the National Collegiate Athletic Association's executive committee, which announced today a policy banning schools using Native American names and symbols from hosting NCAA championship events. That the NCAA would now label our close bond with the Seminole people as culturally "hostile and abusive" is both outrageous and insulting.

On June 17, the Tribal Council of the Seminole Tribe of Florida spoke unequivocally of its support for Florida State University in its use of the Seminole name and related symbols. Accordingly, 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.

National surveys have shown in recent years that an overwhelming majority of Native Americans are not offended by the use of Native American names and symbols. In making its decision, the executive committee has been swayed by a strident minority of activists who claim to speak for all Native Americans. It is unconscionable that the Seminole Tribe of Florida has been ignored.

The rules as we understand them would have us cover the Seminole name and symbol as if we were embarrassed, and any committee that would think that is a proper and respectful treatment of Native Americans should be ashamed.

My husband The Sage was a swimmer and cheerleader in our days at FSU. The cheerleading squad was presented with authentic Seminole-made jackets by the Florida tribe as a token of our generations-old close and respectful relationship. Now I've been called a "flaming liberal," and I'm very sympathetic to the sensitivities of ethnic groups' perceptions of demeaning language or symbols. But the Florida Seminoles clearly have registered no complaints. So where does the NCAA get off?

Not only does Florida State University have the complete consent and cooperation of the Seminole Tribe of Florida, the Seminoles themselves have a vested interest in this ruling. Our Sun Sports sources in Tallahassee have explained to me that the Seminole Tribe has remained cooperative in essentially "licensing" the Seminole name over the years because they fear the precedent set otherwise - if the NCAA can legislate Native American names out of college athletics, the reasoning goes, the next step is the U.S. Government's removal of many of the tax breaks and autonomy currently enjoyed by those same tribes. Plus, we can safely assume that the Seminole Tribe, which pays nearly $3.5 million dollars a year in federal payroll taxes, gets a nice PR bump from seeing their name on the backs of Florida State athletes.

One thing I have learned in those fifteen years - when in doubt, follow the money. If the Seminoles are not complaining about FSU's use of their name, they must be seeing a tangible benefit.


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