Arkansas State University is dealing with a difficult challenge ... whether or not to change the longstanding Indian mascot to another mascot that would be less offensive to some groups.
In August of 2005 the National Collegiate Athletic Association, or NCAA, named 18 institutions targeted for having inappropriate mascots. ASU was included in that list. Since that time several of the named institutions have received a "namesake tribe exception" - meaning the tribe has said the name is not offensive - and the school has been allowed to retain their name. The Florida State Seminoles is one example.
Few people want to see the Arkansas State Indian mascot changed. In fact, some members of the mascot advisory committee went into recent meetings determined they would NOT support a change in the mascot.
However, after evaluating three options - retaining the name, seeking legal action or adopting a new mascot... they have come to the conclusion that changing the mascot may be the most positive move for the University.
Although keeping the name retains years of tradition... it also means ASU will receive sanctions from the NCAA, they will not have the option to host NCAA events, they will not be recognized as the Indians in post-season competition, scheduling issues will develop as more schools refuse to play ASU and ultimately the marketability of ASU will be diminished.
But the real injustice will be to the student athletes. They are the ones who will be adversely affected... and that is not right.
We are confident the mascot review committee will review all the options and make an appropriate recommendation. If changing the mascot is determined to be the best option, we encourage everyone in the ASU family to support that decision. Remember, it is ultimately what is best for the university... specifically the students... that is really important.
As much as we would like to see the Indian name retained, it is clear this may not the best course of action. ASU has the opportunity to choose its own destiny... to be viewed in a positive, progressive light. We're confident they will get it right.