MONROE, La. -- The Indian is out at the University of Louisiana at Monroe.
Under the threat of NCAA sanctions, ULM President James Cofer has accepted the mascot committee's recommendation to retire its 75-year-old mascot and choose a new one by June 1.
That will be plenty of time to have new uniforms and merchandise
ready for football season, Cofer said.
The committee has been sent more than 417 ideas, and will
continue taking suggestions through Feb. 28. Many of those received
so far are variants on themes such as Black Bears, Fighting
Bears, Bruins and Bayou Bruins, Cofer said.
Mascot Committee chairman George Luffey said another suggestion
he likes is Gators, since only one other NCAA Division I-A school,
Florida, has an alligator mascot.
Although the change is not ULM's idea, Cofer said, the name
change from Northeast Louisiana University and other changes have
created a better university, and creating a new campus brand can
also improve it.
The committee will cut the mascot choices to 20 or fewer by March 15, and to three or four by April 1. ULM will put logos for each finalist onto its mascot Web site for an online vote before
the administration makes its choice, Cofer said.
"It is with sadness that we will say goodbye to the Indian
mascot," he wrote in a letter to ULM alumni and supporters. "But
let us also remember that it is the great university represented by
the mascot we feel strongly about, not the mascot itself."
Senior Stephanie Williams, a former Lady Indians basketball
player, said she understands why the NCAA considered the mascot
potentially offensive, but it will be hard to change.
"It's tough because it's been a big part of the university for
so long," said Williams, a New Orleans native. "As an athlete, it
becomes a part of you. It grows on you."
New NCAA standards go into effect Wednesday. Although ULM can
remain the Indians through the end of May, any athletics teams that
reach postseason play would have to cover the name or image.