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Tuesday, August 9, 2005
Updated: August 12, 8:31 PM ET
Bush critices NCAA decision that affects FSU

Associated Press

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Gov. Jeb Bush criticized NCAA officials Tuesday for their decision to penalize Florida State University for using an American Indian nickname and symbols.

The governor said the Seminole Tribe of Florida supports the school's use of its name and NCAA officials had insulted the university and Seminole Indians by calling the nickname "hostile" and "abusive."

"I think they insult those people by telling them, 'No, no, you're not smart enough to understand this. You should be feeling really horrible about this.' It's ridiculous," Bush said.

An NCAA official previously said other Seminole tribes were opposed to the use of the name. On Tuesday, NCAA spokesman Bob Williams said officials believe their decision was made on sound legal ground.

"We recognize this is an emotional issue in Florida, and in other parts of the country there are people who feel just as strongly being opposed," Williams said.

The university has until Feb. 1 to make a formal appeal to the NCAA executive committee.

Eighteen schools have an American Indian logo or mascot that will be prohibited by the NCAA during postseason events, starting in February.

The nicknames will not be allowed on team uniforms and mascots will not be allowed to perform at games, the NCAA announced Friday. Cheerleaders and band members also will be barred from using American Indian nicknames or logos beginning in 2008.

Attorney Barry Richard has agreed to represent the school in its case against the NCAA, Florida State President T.K. Wetherell said. Richard successfully led the legal challenge on behalf of President Bush during the 2000 election recount in Florida.

"If you have the Seminole Tribe and Gov. Bush on your side, how can you go wrong?" said Florida State Vice President Lee Hinkle.

Bush said the NCAA must have better things to do than sit around worrying about the nicknames adopted by its member institutions.

"How politically correct can we get?" Bush asked. "The folks that make these decisions need to get out more often."