Florida State threatened to sue over postseason ban
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- The NCAA will allow Florida State to use its Seminoles nickname in postseason play, removing the school from a list of colleges with American Indian nicknames that were restricted by an NCAA decision earlier this month.
The NCAA said it was recognizing the relationship Florida State has long enjoyed with the Seminole Tribe of Florida, which assists the university with its pageantry and celebration of its culture and supports the school's use of its name.
"The staff review committee noted the unique relationship between the university and the Seminole Tribe of Florida as a significant factor," NCAA senior vice president Bernard Franklin said in a statement released Tuesday. "The decision of a namesake sovereign tribe, regarding when and how its name and imagery can be used, must be respected even when others may not agree."
Florida State president T.K. Wetherell had threatened to sue the NCAA immediately after its Aug. 5 announcement that the school's highly visible nickname, "Seminoles," was defined as "hostile and abusive" by a committee.
"The two things we requested in our appeal were granted," Wetherell said. "I'm ready to play football, start school and have classes begin and all that kind of stuff."
Lee Hinkle, vice president for university relations, said the school e-mailed 250,000 alumni and friends of the NCAA decision.
"I don't think anything has brought them together quite as much as this," said Wetherell. "Whether you're a Gator, Hurricane or Bulldog, those entities believe it's a Florida decision."
Gov. Jeb Bush also applauded the NCAA's reversal.
"When you make a mistake it's important to realize it and move on," Bush said. "They came to the right conclusion ... the Seminole mascot and the tradition at Florida State, is not offensive to anyone."
The NCAA said it would handle reviews from other schools on a case-by-case basis. The Illinois Fighting Illini, Utah Utes and North Dakota Fighting Sioux are among other prominent school nicknames that remain affected by the edict.
Under the NCAA restrictions, teams with American Indian nicknames would not be able to display them on uniforms or have their mascots perform in postseason tournaments.
"The NCAA remains committed to ensuring an atmosphere of respect and sensitivity for all who participate in and attend our championships," Franklin said in the statement.
Wetherell said he has had some contact with the other schools.
"I think they [NCAA] understand, there will be other requests," Wetherell said.
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press