NCAA Rejects William and Mary's Mascot Appeal

May 16, 2006

The College of William and Mary has lost its mascot appeal to the NCAA by a feather.

The image of a feather used in connection with the nickname of the college’s sports teams—the Tribe—persuaded the NCAA to keep William and Mary on a list of institutions that face a postseason ban because they have not given up their American Indian images, which have been deemed offensive.

In the nine months since the NCAA published a list of 18 institutions with such mascots (The Chronicle, August 5, 2005), the NCAA has reversed itself for one prominent university (The Chronicle, August 24, 2005), but upheld penalties for several others (The Chronicle, May 1).

Several years ago, William and Mary abandoned its “Indians” nickname and its American Indian mascot. Officials believed that the new name, the Tribe, honored the college’s founding mission of educating indigenous people.

In its appeal to the NCAA, the college received support from some Virginia tribal leaders and argued that its nickname had various connotations. But because the feather might offend some American Indians, it must go, the NCAA said, according to a written statement.

The college may make one final appeal to the NCAA’s Executive Board. Until then, it may not participate in or play host to NCAA postseason events.