Nickname change called inexpensive

Friday, August 8, 2003

Maybe the price of a gallon of paint.

That's how much it would cost Southeast Missouri State University to change its nickname from Indians to something else, according to athletic director Don Kaverman.

"It wouldn't cost much of anything," Kaverman said. "You don't see our nicknames on our uniforms, not on our media guides, not on our tennis courts, our baseball diamond, nowhere."

The only places students see the image of a Native American is over the stairwell at the Marvin Rosengarten Athletic Complex. At Houck Stadium, the word "Indians" appears in the end zone.

The image at Rosengarten could be painted over and the end-zone wording, soon to be repainted, could be removed easily enough, Kaverman said.

"I don't see a huge cost at all," Kaverman said. "I don't know where it would come from."

The word "Indians" wasn't publicly mentioned at the media day luncheon Thursday, where they trotted out eight players, three coaches, the university president and sports information director.

But the Indian nickname has become controversial in recent weeks as the university's National Alumni Council voted to ditch the school's Indian nickname. The council's conclusion was influenced by the National Collegiate Athletic Association, which is encouraging schools to quit using American Indian symbols.

Southeast is one of 33 schools, including a dozen in Division I, that haven't changed, according to the NCAA.

The ultimate decision rests with the university's board of regents, but input will come from the university's boosters club, the faculty senate and student government. On Tuesday, the boosters club will discuss the matter, but a vote for its recommendation hasn't been scheduled yet.

"This has been going on for quite a few years," said boosters club board member Harry Rediger. "Cost would be a factor if we had to pay for it. But we haven't really even gotten as far as cost."

Rediger said to him the nickname falls low on the priority list.

"A lot of things come ahead of that to me," he said. "Anything in facility improvement, scholarship expansion -- we're desperately trying to make our boosters club goal this year to fund scholarships. To me, all of those things are more important."

Kaverman said, however, that the university is missing out on a lot of marketing opportunities with a nickname that the university hasn't used officially for years.

"The media is the only group that calls us the Indians," Kaverman said. "We just refer to ourselves as Southeast. SIU has 10 or 12 different logos and so does Southwest Missouri State. We only have one. We need to either embrace who we are or move forward."

In with new

If the board of regents opts for a new nickname -- a decision is expected by the end of the school year -- that wouldn't cost much either, Kaverman said. The new nickname could be phased in as new athletic materials are purchased.

When the football team needs new uniforms, they can be ordered to include the nickname. The same with new stationery, media guides and schedule cards.

"There's a wooden statue of an Indian in a trophy case," Kaverman said. "I guess we could take that out if they want us to."

While the university could hire a consultant, Kaverman said he's not suggesting that it does.

"We have a lot of talent right here in our own department," Kaverman said. "We have a graphic artist. We could do this internally."

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