NCAA Ruling on Use of "Catawba Indians" for Athletic Teams

On Tuesday morning, May 30, 2006 Catawba College received official notification that the NCAA Staff Review Committee has approved the use of the name Catawba Indians by Catawba College for its athletic teams.

This notification will remove the College from the list of institutions previously sanctioned for the use of a Native American nickname and related symbolism. Catawba College intends to abide fully by the NCAA directives in this matter.

Update on the NCAA Appeal
In October 2005, the Catawba College Board of Trustees authorized an official appeal to the NCAA with regard to the limitations they had placed on our continued use of the Catawba Indians as the nickname for our athletic programs. In follow-up to our appeal, we have had two conversations with Dr. Bernard Franklin who chairs the NCAA committee responsible for reviewing appeals. We also arranged for Chief Gilbert Blue of the Catawba Indian Nation to speak directly with Dr. Franklin.

We were then notified that the February 1 date for the enforcement of their previous rulings had been suspended for all schools who were in the appeals process. We were later informed that decisions on our appeal would not be made until April 2006. This delay was to allow the NCAA Appeals Committee to meet with the Executive Committee of the NCAA to review their earlier rulings on these matters. Our understanding is that the NCAA is proceeding carefully to assure consistency in their response to the appeals.

We should hear from the NCAA with a decision on our appeal sometime in April. Until that time, we continue to use the Catawba Indians nickname for all of our athletic teams and hope that the NCAA will rule favorably upon our appeal to continue that usage.

We will inform alumni and friends of the decision when we receive it and any subsequent actions that may need to follow. Thank you for your continued support and interest in the athletic programs of Catawba College.

Catawba College's Position on NCAA Ruling
We at Catawba College take very seriously the recent announcement and actions of the NCAA with regard to Native American nicknames and mascots. We disagree strongly with the categorization of Catawba College's use of "Indians" as "hostile and abusive." Over the past several years, upon advice and counsel given us by our own alumni who are Native Americans, we have taken steps to assure the appropriate use of the College's symbols and logos. We discontinued the College mascot and removed all renderings of Native Americans. These were not representations of Catawba Indians and culture.

During the past year, an Athletic Task Force was formed to review all aspects of athletics at the College including the absence of a mascot and the NCAA concerns over the continued use of "Indians." The Task Force recommended that we undertake a process which would lead to the adoption of a new mascot to fill the void currently existing in Catawba College community life. The Task Force also recommended that we continue to review the use of “Indians” in light of what were believed to be impending actions of the NCAA. Those rulings by the NCAA have now been received and Catawba College will initiate a process for a comprehensive review of our use of the term "Indians" and the identification and selection of a mascot for the College community. A primary concern for us is the opportunity for our student athletes to participate in NCAA competitions without impediments.

We are aware of legal actions being taken by several Colleges and Universities opposing the recent rulings of the NCAA. We have chosen not to file an appeal or enter litigation at the current time but will deliberate these matters carefully and thoroughly over the next few months. Our Board of Trustees will consider the NCAA rulings and Catawba College's response at the October meeting.

Robert E. Knott
President – Catawba College

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