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THURSDAY, AUGUST 25, 2005
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EDITORIAL

NCAA should try making sports better for schools, fans

The National Collegiate Athletic Association is on a roll. Unfortunately, the ball appears to be rolling in the wrong direction.

In the past three weeks, the governing body of major college sports has announced two ludicrous regulations to add to its already way-too-long list of rules colleges and universities must live by in order to partake of the post-season spoils. Neither edict holds even a glimmer of promise in making major collegiate athletics more enjoyable for the fans, the participating schools or the athletes.

First, the NCAA announced Aug. 5 that schools with Native American names or mascots will no longer be able to utilize those names or mascots in post-season play. That meant Florida State University, which goes by the name of the Seminoles (with the official blessing of the Seminole tribe), would have been forced to change its mascot in order to participate in post-season tournaments.

On Tuesday, the NCAA reversed its decision in the wake of a threat by Florida State President T.K. Wetherell to sue the organization.

But what about other schools? The rule clearly applies to the University of Illinois, known as the Fighting Illini, which finished second in the NCAA men's basketball championship tournament this year. Under the NCAA guidelines, its longtime mascot, Chief Illiniwek, clearly must go. Illini is a tribe native to the state. In fact, Illinois is a French word for Illini. So perhaps the state should change its name before the NCAA bans it from existence.

Ditto Indiana, which means land of Indians.

And the Dakotas, and Utah . . .

The NCAA said Tuesday it would handle appeals by other schools on a case-by-case basis. We hope People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals doesn't get involved in the bruhaha. That could mean the end to Tigers, Bulldogs, Gamecocks, Gators, Cardinals and a host of other school mascots.

Instead, the NCAA should scrap the new mascot rule altogether.

The other recently enacted NCAA edict establishes a Harris poll of 114 men (what, no women?) the Bowl Championship Series will use to determine which teams play in the four major college football bowl games.

The Harris Interactive College Football Poll panel is comprised of former college football players, coaches and administrators, plus some media members. The names of its voters were released Monday.

The poll replaces The Associated Press top 25 media poll as one of three components in determining BCS standings. A coaches' poll and computer ranking are the other two factors in the complex BCS formula.

But utilizing a subjective poll to determine bowl participants — and ultimately a national champion — goes against the very nature of sports competition. Objectivity is one of the appeals of athletics; winners and losers are decided on the field, not on some ballot filled out by a so-called expert.

If the NCAA really wants to improve the college football post-season, it must adopt a tournament format to determine a true national champion, as it has done for all other college sports.

We'd hate to see the U.S. Supreme Court have to decide who gets to play in the Rose Bowl or Fiesta Bowl because Terry Bradshaw left a hanging chad on his ballot.

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