Mascot Review Committee Recommends To Change Indian

JONESBORO, AR--Five weeks ago Arkansas State University formed a committee to determine if it is in the University's best interest to continue with the Indian mascot. Monday, they handed down their recommendation.

The Mascot Review Committee agreed to a resolution recommending to the board of trustees that the Indian mascot should be no more. The move is in response to an NCAA rule that bars the use of Native American themes from post season events.

After talking with members of the community, most on the Mascot Review Committee had objections to changing the mascot; however according to Committee Chairman Jim Pickens, the decision had to be made.

"We basically had two choices. We can vote for change or we could not vote for change and incur ramifications, implications and sanctions from the NCAA," said Pickens.

After committee members took several minutes to look over a resolution to change the Indian mascot, the landmark decision was made.

"The overriding decision wasn't one that we relished. There is a lot of emotion tied to that, but we had to do what was best for the university and I feel we did that," said Pickens.

Randi Romo attended Monday's meeting. She's part American-Indian and a co-founder of the Center for Artistic Revolution a group trying to break down stereotypes.

"This didn't happen because it was the right thing, it happened because it was an economical thing," said Romo.

She feels the university should change the mascot because it is an insult to Native Americans.

"What I keep hearing is the anguish and the sadness that they have to change because they have to by the NCAA," said Romo.

While she doesn't feel the university's heart is in the right place, she is happy with the decision.

"Regardless of if they felt like their arms were twisted and they were forced into, which seemed to be the prevalent opinion in the room, it is still a step in the right direction," said Romo.

The recommendation of the committee now goes to the board of trustees, who are scheduled to meet again in September, but a special session could be held before that time.

The committee also passed a resolution to recommend a national sports marketing group is hired to help with the decision of the next mascot, but fans shouldn't throw their Indian apparel away just yet.

"I would say the earliest it could be would be the 2008 season," said Pickens.

According to Pickens switching to a new mascot will cost the university somewhere between $250,000 and $500,000.