May 30, 2006
President Robert Knott
2300 West Innes Street
Salisbury, North Carolina 28144-2488
Dear President Knott:
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) staff committee has considered the Catawba College request for a review of the NCAA Executive Committee's determination that the university's use of nicknames, mascots and/or imagery leads to a hostile or abusive environment. This letter is to serve as formal notice that the staff review committee has determined that Catawba College should be removed from the list of colleges and universities subject to restrictions on the use of Native American mascots, names and imagery at NCAA championships.
Although the Executive Committee continues to believe that stereotyping Native Americans through nicknames and imagery is wrong, it recognizes that a Native American tribe is a distinct political community and, therefore, respects the authority of the tribe to permit universities and colleges to use its name and imagery. Tribal sovereignty and the means to exercise powers of self-government are essential to the survival of Indian Nations. The Committee also recognizes that there are, and will be, disagreements among Native American individuals, groups and tribes concerning the use of mascots, nicknames and imagery in sports. In those instances in which a tribe endorses the use of its name and associated imagery, the NCAA defers to the judgment and will of the tribe.
Therefore, inasmuch, as Catawba College's use of the name "Catawba Indians" and associated imagery has received the approval of the Catawba Indian Nation; the institution will not be subject to the terms of the policy. It is important to note that the staff review committee has approved the use of the name "Catawba Indians" and not the use of the generic term "Indians." The staff review committee believes that the use of a generic Native American reference like "Indians" or "Braves" cannot be mitigated by the concurrence of any Native American tribe. No Native American tribe "owns" the word "Indians" in the same way it owns the tribal name and, therefore, cannot overcome the presumption position taken by the Executive Committee that the use of such names leads to a hostile or abusive environment.
In this regard, while the support of the Catawba Indian Nation is sufficient to endorse the university's use of its official tribal name (Catawba Indians), it does not suffice as an endorsement of the use of the generic term "Indians." It is our understanding that the institution's official nickname is "Catawba Indians" and not "Indians" and this nickname will be reflected in this form on all official university documents and paraphernalia.
Finally, Catawba College has been removed from the list of those institutions subject to the provisions of the policy, contingent on the continued support of the tribe. Therefore, should there be any dissolution of the relationship between the college and the Catawba Indian Nation in the future, whereby the tribe no longer supports the use of its name; we ask that the NCAA be notified.
Please feel free to contact me if you need additional clarification.
Bernard W. Franklin
Senior Vice President for Governance and Membership
cc: Selected NCAA Staff Members