Mascot Madness

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This is a partial transcript of "The Big Story With John Gibson," August 11, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

JOHN GIBSON, HOST: The NCAA (search) is cracking down on what it considers offensive mascots, like ones featuring Indians. If the schools don't change their mascots, their sports teams can't play in the post-season. Does the NCAA have a right to force schools to change their mascots?

We're joined by Congressman Tom Feeney, a Republican from Florida, and Peter Roby, director of the Center for the Study of Sport in Society at Northeastern University.

Let me go to the congressman first. So I guess the Seminoles have the problem that's immediately on the horizon. How do you think this is going to shake out?

REP. TOM FEENEY, R-FLA.: Well, I think the NCAA will back off or Congress may get involved. We have the power under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution, and particularly the Sherman act of 1890, to regulate any commerce or trade between the states. Any conspiracy or contract that tends to impede interstate commerce or trade can be controlled by Congress.

In this case, the NCAA's rules are incredibly unreasonable. They never had anybody from the Florida Seminole tribe come and testify. They never talked to FSU. This is an abusive or hostile attitude toward the...

GIBSON: I understand the Oklahoma Seminoles who object, not the Florida Seminoles.

FEENEY: This is not the Oklahoma State Seminoles. This is the Florida State Seminoles (search). And in my view, if you're really going to talk about abusive and hostile you have to start with, for example, the notion of the Fighting Irish. I'm an American of Irish descent. I certainly don't take offense to that. But the relationships...

GIBSON: Do you know why that hasn't come up, Congressman?

FEENEY: Well, it hasn't come up yet, but...

GIBSON: The NCAA says that it hasn't come up because no one's ever complained. But they might.

So let me ask Peter Roby. What is the deal here? I have seen this going on all over the country. And despite the congressman's anger about it, there's sort of a gravity and an inevitability to this. Can the NCAA get away with it?

PETER ROBY, CENTER FOR STUDY OF SPORT IN SOCIETY: Well, the thing that I think everybody has to understand about the NCAA is that the NCAA is not some big bureaucracy. The NCAA is a member schools, and the member schools pass legislation and give people the opportunity or the right to dictate what's going to happen to their member schools.

So, you know, we have a tendency to think that the NCAA is some big, bad brother looking over everybody's shoulder as opposed to a membership organization.

So my response to the Congressman, in all due respect, is if Florida State no longer wants to be a member of the NCAA because they feel like their rules are discriminatory, they should get out of the NCAA and go play on their own.

GIBSON: I've got to thank both of you now and see how this shakes out. Congressman Tom Feeney, appreciate it. Peter Roby, thank you.

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