May 17, 2005 – Posted at 2:45 p.m. CDT
JONESBORO, AR -- The National Collegiate Athletic Association may be coming close to making a decision on whether or not colleges and universities can use Native American mascots and nicknames.
It's an issue that's been debated for years. And schools that use nicknames like Indians, Braves, Redmen and Savages may have to come up with an alternative.
The NCAA will be conducting meetings all summer on this issue, but it could be as soon as August when they decide whether they can and should impose a ban on Indian imagery.
“Occasionally, we will have people contact the University, either through the presidents office, through our office in the alumni association or even through athletics who are not happy with our use of the Native American imagery,” said Beth Smith of the ASU Alumni Relations Office, “But we also find broad support for that.”
Finding support isn't hard. Plenty of students say they don't want to lose the only mascot they've ever known.
“I think it would just be too much of a drastic change. I mean, it's already kind of the persona when you come to Arkansas State, you’re considered an Indian and to change that would just be too drastic and costly,” said ASU Junior Whitney Scott.
“I think we should stick with the Indians, since that is what we have been for the longest time, and that's what I want to be remembered as, because that's what I was here,” said ASU Senior Cindy Holbrook, “I would hate to come in the book store and buy something that I wasn't even a part of.”
And the impact could hit harder then just students. Indian Book & Supply would have change a lot more than their name.
“The impact would make us have to sell this as best we could because we can't return it. We already have the dollars tied up in it. We’d have to get the money back out of it somehow,” said White.
ASU's mascot has been the Indians since 1931, but the look has evolved over the years.
“We do feel like we have made some changes to the use of that imagery to be more respectful,” said Smith, “We did eliminate the use of Running Joe, Jumping Joe and we've gone to a much more elegant use of Native American imagery.”
And as for the future...
“This is a logo that could have some controversy surrounding it. In the end, it might be a good idea to change it,” said White, “Our place of business does not really welcome the change, but if it happens, we'll deal with it.”
“We will find that Arkansas State is progressive about that. We’re committed to our use of a Native American mascot in a very dignified manner,” said Smith, “If we are presented with a situation where we have to do that, I think we will rise to the occasion and do that very well.”