FEBRUARY 15, 2006

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Southeastern changes nickname to meet NCAA requirements

It’s official – the Southeastern Oklahoma State University Savages will soon be known as the “Savage Storm.’’

At its regular monthly last month, the Board of Regents of Oklahoma Colleges approved the recommendation of SOSU President Dr. Glen D. Johnson that the school’s nickname be changed from “Savages” to “Savage Storm.” No Native American imagery will be associated with the new nickname, in compliance with the NCAA policy guidelines. The new nickname and imagery is expected to be in place by May 15, 2006.

The new nickname has been endorsed by both the Executive Committee of the Southeastern Student Government Association and the Southeastern Alumni Association’s Board of Directors.

During their August 2005 meeting, the presidents and chancellors who serve on the NCAA Executive Committee adopted a new policy to prohibit NCAA colleges and universities from displaying hostile or abusive racial/ethnic/national origin mascots, nicknames or imagery at any of the NCAA’s national or regional championship competitions. The policy also prohibits those colleges and universities from hosting NCAA post-season championship events.

Prior to the August meeting of the Executive Committee and at the request of the NCAA, Southeastern Oklahoma State University had completed an institutional self-evaluation examining the use of the university’s mascot, nickname, and logo. This report was forwarded to the NCAA on May 1, 2005. A total of 33 institutions were asked to complete a self-study.

After reviewing the self-studies of the 33 institutions, the NCAA Executive Committee determined that 18 institutions, including Southeastern Oklahoma State University, fell within the parameters of the new mascot and nickname policy.

“We have been assured by the NCAA that our action regarding the nickname will satisfy all of its policy guidelines and meet its deadline,’’ President Johnson said. “It should be noted that our students, faculty, staff, and alumni will be involved this spring in determining new logos and imagery to represent 'Savage Storm.'"

In December 2001, President Johnson appointed a Mascot and Nickname Task Force to evaluate the name of Southeastern’s athletic teams (the "Savages"), the mascot, and SOSU’s logo in terms of their image and impact on the long-term interests of Southeastern, particularly as the university moves forward into the 21st century.

The Task Force met on a regular basis until October 2002. At that time, the task force suspended its work because of ongoing developments in the parallel work of the NCAA relative to university mascots and nicknames. From a local perspective, it appeared that the NCAA was moving forward with guidelines or regulations relative to use of Native-American mascots.

As a result of the action taken in August 2005 by the NCAA, Southeastern reconvened the Mascot and Nickname Task Force to examine the new NCAA policy guidelines and regulations and to make recommendations as they relate to Southeastern Oklahoma State University’s nickname.

The 18-member Mascot and Nickname Task Force was a broad-based group comprised of Southeastern students, alumni, administrators, faculty and staff members, and community leaders. The task force received input from a number of university constituents prior to making its recommendations to President Johnson in December 2005.

Contact: Alan Burton, director of public information, 1.580.745.2731