I've noticed a couple of interesting news stories lately involving the College of William & Mary that relate to some ongoing debates in higher education. My wife is a William & Mary alumna, and while she is not as obsessive about W&M as I am about Dartmouth (few are, I suspect) various William & Mary news storied do come across my radar screen occasionally.
Joe Malchow reports that William & Mary's leadership has sparked a great deal of controversy by its decision to remove a long-present cross from the historical Christopher Wren Building. Efforts to announce the decision on the sly appear to have failed. Malchow has all the details and links.
In other William & Mary news, the NCAA has rejected W&M's appeal of its decision on its "Tribe" logo. According to the NCAA, the moniker the "Tribe" is ok. The problem is that the logo has two feathers on it which still renders it "hostile and abusive." Why? Because the NCAA has decided so--no explanation given. The NCAA set up an appeals process to permit indian-themed mascots and logos if the relevant group approved of it. The problem is that William & Mary uses the generic name "Tribe," so there is no identifiable group to approve it, so there was no meaningful right to appeal. And still no explanation has been given why "Tribe" is ok but two feathers is not. It appears that the NCAA has never tried to define "hostile and abusive" in any meaningful or justiciable manner, it is just a subjective conclusory statement by some NCAA bureaucrats.
As William & Mary's President observed:
The reference, of course, is to mascot for the Florida State Seminoles. FSU won its appeal with the NCAA to use the mascot.
Present NCAA determinations of mascot policy--what is allowed and what is forbidden--are neither comprehensible nor capable of being sensibly defended.... An interpretation that penalizes the College of William and Mary while embracing the depection of a brave on horseback, in war pain, plunging a flaming spear into the turf at midfield, to the delight of 85,000 chanting, tomahawking fans, is, at best, enigmatic.
Despite the absurdity and indefensible nature of the NCAA's ruling, W&M's President has announced that they will not bring a lawsuit, primarily because of the damage that the NCAA could do to W&M and its athletic program during the pendency of the lawsuit. I'm not sure that this is wholly persuasive as surely the College could file a lawsuit seeking a preliminary injunction against the NCAA and given the arbitrariness of the NCAA's decision, I would think that the College would have a reasonable possibility of winning the injunction. But W&M appears ready to drop it.
Leaving aside the merits of the decision, the way in which the NCAA has handled this whole issue has been simply appalling from the beginning. How can the NCAA possibly believe that this is an issue that they are empowered to decide? And to do it in such an arbitrary and dictatorial matter? What we see in the W&M President's letter deciding not to appeal is the utter fear of the absolute lawlessness of the NCAA. What is amazing is that the NCAA refuses to even consider that it has overreached on this matter and it is obvious that the NCAA in fact would be willing to punish the students during the pendency of any litigation on this matter. The arbitrariness of NCAA decision-making and the fear it strikes into unquestionably clean programs like William & Mary seems like a frightening combination when you consider the financial and educational impact its actions have on students and universities.
My impression is that the NCAA's approach to this issue, as with almost everything else the NCAA does, is utterly risible. I've been reading Michael Lewis's new book, "The Blind Side" (which is an utterly fascinating read, by the way), and the absurd and sanctimonious attitude of the NCAA toward recruiting issues is really just appalling. Am I wrong in thinking of the NCAA as a complete joke? Is the NCAA better than I'm giving it credit for?
Related Posts (on one page):
- UND Wins Injunction Versus NCAA on "Fighting Sioux" Nickname:
- Crosses and Feathers at William & Mary: