|Arkansas State retires Indian family|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 28 February 2008 17:47|
The Arkansas State junior, part of the school's ``Indian family,'' had just left the court after participating in an emotional retirement ceremony for the ASU mascot.
``I was on the verge of tears,'' Shurley said. ``We all had bets that I would tear up, but I didn't.''
Arkansas State retired the Indian family - a trio of students dressed in Indian attire - at halftime of a basketball game against Louisiana-Monroe on Thursday night. The school's teams will remain the Indians through the end of this school year before becoming either the Wolves or Red Wolves. The retirement ceremony included a video tribute to the mascot and a visit from past members of the Indian family.
Indians has been Arkansas State's official athletic nickname since 1931. The school's teams had a variety of nicknames before then, including Aggies, Gorillas and Warriors.
In 2005, the NCAA announced a ban on ethnically or racially ``hostile'' or ``abusive'' nicknames, mascots and imagery at championship events. Arkansas State was one of the schools found in violation of the policy. The school took its time deciding what to do before finally opting to stop using Indians.
``It is an emotional night,'' athletic director Dean Lee said Thursday. ``Obviously our fans have been attached to the Indian mascot for 77 years and they've held it in the highest esteem, with the utmost respect, honor and dignity. ... It is emotional, but it's also the beginning of the new era.''
Not everybody is all that eager to move on. Frank Love, 42, of Newport, criticized the NCAA's action.
``We think the NCAA is a communist institution,'' Love said as an acquaintance sitting next to him laughed. ``We think that what they're doing is wrong. We also feel like that they're not being equitable, either. If Indians is hostile and abusive toward a people group, so is Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Being of Irish descent as I am, I find that abusive because I'm not a fighter.''
Arkansas State fans greeted the Indian family with a standing ovation before the opening tip, and players took the court by running through a large inflatable tepee. As the game started, the public address announcer urged fans to provide ``one final Indian uprising.''
Fittingly, the mascot retirement took place during a game against Louisiana-Monroe, which was also called the Indians before recently changing to the Warhawks.
State Sen. Shane Broadway was in the Indian family in 1992 and took part in the retirement ceremony.
``It is a bittersweet night,'' Broadway said. ``The university is much larger than its mascot. We'll always remember being the Indians, but we move on to the next phase. ... I urge the students to be the ones to take the new mascot and make something of it.''