(CNSNews.com) - The National Collegiate Athletic Association has announced that Mississippi College will be allowed to continue using Native American names and imagery without fear of punishment.
In August 2005, the NCAA announced that schools with "hostile and abusive racial/ethnic/national origin mascots, nicknames or imagery" would be banned from championship events.
The original announcement named 18 colleges and universities with "hostile and abusive" mascots, including the Mississippi College Choctaws.
According to Mississippi College President Lee Royce, however, the university shares a "mutual relationship of respect and cooperation" with the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians and the tribe approved of the school's use of Choctaw names and images.
"Although the NCAA ... continues to believe the stereotyping of Native Americans is wrong," the group said in a release announcing the exemption, "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."
Mississippi joins Florida State University, Central Michigan University and the University of Utah as the only schools to receive exemptions.
NCAA spokesman Bob Williams said the appeals were granted because individual, sovereign tribes announced their approval of the use of names and images. Most of the other schools use generic terms like "Indians" or "Braves" as mascots, so Williams said "the tribal issue isn't in play at all in their particular cases."
Eight other schools are appealing the restrictions, including Catawba College, which is named for an Indian tribe. Four schools - Chowan College, Midwestern State University, Southeastern Oklahoma State University and the University of Louisiana-Monroe - have begun efforts to change their mascots.
Alcorn State University (the Braves) and Arkansas State University (the Indians) have not filed appeals or started changing their mascots and logos, according to Williams. They are the only two schools that will not be allowed to participate in championship events.
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