First Posted: 1/15/2009
UNCP Notebook – Scott Bigelow
In response to a request from the National Collegiate Athletic Association, The University of North Carolina at Pembroke is reviewing its use of an American Indian nickname and logo.
The university will assess whether its use of the Brave nickname and logo is offensive to the surrounding American Indian community, in part, through a survey. The public is invited to respond to the survey by clipping it from this newspaper and mailing it to Athletic Department; P.O. Box 1510; Pembroke N.C. 28358. The survey will also be available online beginning Friday at www.uncp.edu.
Chancellor Allen C. Meadors appointed a six-member campus steering committee to assist the University in responding to the latest NCAA query. The committee is comprised of two American Indians, Dr. Zoe Locklear, dean of the School of Education and Dr. Linda Oxendine, chairman of the American Indian Studies Department. Other committee members are Tom Dooling, former chairman of the Faculty Senate; Mike DeCinti, a broadcasting professor; Amber Rach, director of University Communications; and Abdul Ghaffar, director of Student Activities and a former UNCP athlete.
It is the second request from the NCAA asking UNCP to study the use of its American Indian athletic logo and nickname. The university's mascot is a red-tailed hawk, and its nickname is the Braves. The athletic logo incorporates both hawk and Brave images.
The Brave nickname dates back 50 years or more when UNCP was an all-Indian school. The mascot was changed to a hawk in 1991. The university was asked to submit a report to the NCAA governing body by May 1. In 2002, UNCP was among 31 schools identified by an NCAA committee as having mascots or logos that could be considered controversial.
“We are following the community’s lead on this,” Meadors said. “If the community says we should change our nickname and logo, we will do it.”
The university's board of trustees, which currently has five American Indians on it, voted unanimously in 2003 in support the Braves nickname. Meadors and the Athletic Department believe there is widespread support for it.
On Feb. 15, the Lumbee Tribal Council voted unanimously in support of the Braves logo and nickname.
“If the community ever tells us this is not the link that they want to our past, we will pull it. I feel that the community is comfortable with it,” said Dan Kenney, athletic director. “That's what we are working to determine with this survey.”
The university was founded in 1887 as a normal school to educate American Indians. Today, more than 1,000 or about one-fifth of UNCP's enrollment is American Indian, mostly from the large Lumbee Tribe that surrounds Pembroke.
– Scott Bigelow is the associate director of public relations for The University of North Carolina at Pembroke.