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May 15, 2007 -- The newly formed Mascot Review Committee at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro held its first meeting Monday and began working on its charge from Dr. Robert L. Potts, chancellor of ASU.
Chancellor Potts announced in March that he would appoint a broadly based committee of constituent representatives to study the Indian mascot and nickname issue, especially in light of directives by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). In August 2005, the NCAA declared that institutions with Native American nicknames and imagery would not be allowed to use the names or imagery at post-season competition.
The committee is expected to meet at least three times over the summer to develop a recommendation Dr. Potts can take forward to the Board of Trustees later this year.
Jim Pickens, immediate past chair of the ASU Board of Trustees, is chairing the committee.
The Mascot Review Committee heard oral reports Monday from Chancellor Potts and Athletics Director Dean Lee concerning the status of appeals that similarly affected schools have made to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), and the anticipated impact of various alternatives that ASU might consider.
Essentially, the university has three basic choices: take no action and deal with the sanctions imposed by the NCAA; file a lawsuit, an action which would be a very expensive undertaking; or select a new nickname and mascot. Other appeals have been successful only when a namesake Indian tribe gives its support to the school, such as the case with the Florida State Seminoles.
As they discussed the various ramifications associated with keeping the current mascot and nickname versus recommending a change, members of the committee agreed that an extensive educational campaign will be needed to explain the full impact of the various options.
Pickens emphasized that all issues will be explored and discussed with the university's broad-based constituencies, with the "final decision resting on what is in the short and long-term best interest of the university."
In addition to Pickens, other members of the committee are:
Robin Aaron, student athlete in volleyball; Rosalie Barber, emeritus faculty member; Laura Cremeens, Staff Senate; Kimberly Dale, attorney in Paragould; Dr. Jerry Farris, College of Sciences and Mathematics; Dr. Gil Fowler, The Honors College; Jeff Hankins, Arkansas Business Publishing Group; Dr. Robyn Hannigan, Environmental Sciences; Marilyn Hummelstein, St.Bernards Development Foundation; Dr. Glen Jones, Academic Affairs and Research;
Bill Keedy, retired athletics director at Newport High School; Dr. Dean Lee, Athletics; Sharon Lee, Finance; Lark Little, Panhellenic president; Jerrod Lockhart, Student Life; Dr. Louella Moore, Faculty Senate president; Tom Moore, University Communications; Charles Rasberry, emeritus faculty member; Melanie Richardson, Athletics; Velmar Singleton Richmond, trustee emeritus; Beth Smith, Alumni Relations; Dr. C. Calvin Smith, emeritus faculty member;
Joe Turney, Heritage Bank; Terry Walker, Interfraternity Conference president; Millie Ward, Stone Ward of Little Rock; Genesis Watkins, National Pan-Hellenic Council president; Ed Way, Liberty Bank; Lindsay Weaver, Student Activities Board president; Cari White, Jonesboro Regional Chamber of Commerce; Nonie Wiggins, faculty athletics representative; Marcia Williams, tennis coach; and Dennis Zolper, Belz-Burrow Development Group.
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