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Chowan faces mascot decision

MURFREESBORO – Chowan College is in a quandary.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is holding the Braves captive.

The presidents and chancellors who serve on the NCAA Executive Committee adopted a new policy last week that will prohibit colleges and universities from displaying &uot;hostile and abusive racial/ethnic/national origin mascots, nicknames or imagery at any of the 88 NCAA championships.&uot;

A total of 18 colleges and universities currently use Native American imagery or references and are subject to the new policy. Chowan College is the only school in North Carolina subject to the ban and is part of a group that includes Florida State University, the University of Illinois and the University of Utah.

&uot;Obviously, I think the Braves name is a fine description of our athletic teams based on the area we live and the large number of Indian tribes that once inhabited this area,&uot; Chowan College President Dr. Christopher White said. &uot;At the same time, we want to be a good citizen of the NCAA.&uot;

White said the school would take a look at the issue to determine what is in the best interest of the institution in the future.

&uot;(Athletic Director) Jim Tribbett and I will put together a committee and see what is in the best interest of Chowan,&uot; White said. &uot;We want to do everything the right way and be good citizens of the NCAA.&uot;

With Chowan currently in the midst of a two-year period of transition from NCAA Division III to Division II, the Braves are not eligible for the post-season for those years anyway, allowing time to study the issue.

&uot;We want to be open-minded both ways, but ultimately we will do what is in the best interest of Chowan College,&uot; White closed.

One part of the policy takes effect immediately. That part is institutions with student-athletes wearing uniforms or having paraphernalia with those references must ensure that those uniforms or paraphernalia not be worn or displayed at NCAA championship competitions.

The policy requires that institutions with &uot;hostile or abusive references&uot; take reasonable steps to cover up those references at any predetermined NCAA championship site that has been previously awarded.

Institutions displaying or promoting &uot;hostile or abusive references&uot; on their mascots, cheerleaders, dance teams and band uniforms or paraphernalia are prohibited from wearing the material at NCAA championships effective August 1, 2008.

&uot;We’re sensitive to anyone’s feelings,&uot; Tribbett said. &uot;We have a great tradition as the Chowan Braves, but we’re going to look into it and do what’s right by the NCAA and our community.&uot;