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Chowan begins effort to find new mascot

MURFREESBORO – The time has come to say goodbye.

Chowan College President Dr. Chris White announced Thursday the decision to change the school mascot.

&uot;The executive committee of the Board of Trustees met today and approved the establishment of a committee to make a recommendation for our athletic name,&uot; White said.

The decision by Chowan College came after a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) mandate to ban teams with nicknames deemed offensive to Native Americans. Chowan’s &uot;Braves&uot; name was one of those on the list.

Dr. White said while attending the NCAA convention he had several meetings at which he gathered information about the change.

After those meetings, White came to the conclusion the school needed to make the name change.

White gave four reasons for making his decision to recommend to the trustees they not fight the NCAA mandate.

The first is the cost of mounting an appeal, which he believed would cost $50,000 at the very least.

The second would be the time it takes to make the appeal. White said the process would take several months and would consume not only the time of new Athletic Director Dennis Helsel, but also the time of the president

The third reason White said he couldn’t foresee the school fighting the mandate was because of their current process of making the transition from NCAA Division III to Division II.

&uot;This is the wrong time to have the NCAA angry with us,&uot; White said. &uot;Though that very well may not affect the vote, it could because fighting it could mean lawsuits, etc.&uot;

The final reason was much simpler.

&uot;The most significant reason is I don’t think we can win,&uot; Dr. White said. &uot;I cannot in good conscience recommend to the board going into something that will cost as much and cause time to be spent and know we will lose.&uot;

While he is moving forward with the change of the mascot, Dr. White made it clear he personally did not see a problem with Braves.

&uot;I personally think the Braves is a fine name which has served us well,&uot; Dr. White said. &uot;There has never been a problem with the local Native Americans that I’m aware of, but the better part of wisdom says it is time to move on.&uot;

As the college moves forward, Dr. Larry Frazier, the Faculty Athletic Representative for Chowan, will chair a committee to select a new name. Helsel will serve as vice chairman of the committee.

According to White, the job of the committee will be to collect information and make a recommendation from a wide group of sources and present it to the president.

&uot;We have no preconceived idea going into this,&uot; Dr. White said. &uot;We are hoping someone comes up with just the right idea.&uot;

The college is seeking suggestions for the new name. Anyone with an idea can go to www.chowan.edu. On that site there is a button to suggest a new nickname and mascot.

Those wanting to use regular mail can direct suggestions to Dr. Frazier at 200 Jones Drive, Murfreesboro, NC 27855.

Dr. White said he was hoping people would enjoy the process of giving the school a new name for its mascot.

&uot;A lot of this will depend on our attitude,&uot; Dr. White said. &uot;I would prefer we look at this as a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the resurgence of the school as opposed to something we’re having to do because of pressure from a national organization.

&uot;If we can get over our feelings about that and let this be a positive thing, it can be a tremendous amount of fun,&uot; he added.

As for timetable, Dr. White said he had two ideas.

&uot;My absolute timetable is that I will allow us to go for one more year as the Braves, but I hope we can be done sooner than that,&uot; he said. &uot;If it can be done right before school is out, that is what I would like.&uot;

Dr. White said he hoped the announcement could be made during the spring semester and the teams would bear the new name this fall. If the school cannot meet that deadline, the school will wait until next fall to announce the name because he wants it to be done when the students are on campus.