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Saturday, August 13, 2005
State also considering antitrust investigation of NCAA news services

In 2000, Florida had election recount lawsuits. Now, Florida could have mascot lawsuits.

The Palm Beach Post reported Saturday that Florida lawmakers are discussing legislation that would protect state university mascots against the recent NCAA decision to ban American Indian nicknames, logos and mascots during postseason play. Florida is also considering an antitrust investigation of the NCAA.

State Sen. Jim King told the Post that some sort of legislation would be filed, and it could involve including the state's university mascots in Florida law. King also called on Florida attorney general Charlie Crist to initiate an antitrust investigation of the NCAA.

"Hopefully, this is going to bring the NCAA back to the realm of reality that has escaped them in the last couple of weeks," Jim Smith, chairman of the FSU Board of Trustees and a former Florida attorney general, told the Post of the appeal.

NCAA officials declined to discuss the issue with the Post, although it had previously said that it could make an exception to its rule if schools have the support of American Indian tribes. In June, the Seminole Tribe of Florida affirmed its support of Florida State's use of the nickname.

In his appeal to the NCAA, FSU president T.K. Wetherell said "the NCAA's process of adopting this new policy was seriously flawed and undemocratic." However, the NCAA defended itself to the Post on Friday, saying in an e-mail that the policy was the result of "an exhaustive four-year process" and that "each affected institution, including Florida State University, has a clear road map for appealing."

Despite the legislators' posturing, they may actually be limited in what actions they can take. The Post reported that the Board of Governors and legislature can't agree on their roles in overseeing Florida's universities, and the issue is before the courts.

Regardless, FSU supporters are ready to take their appeal to court.

"We don't want to be asleep at the switch and miss the opportunity," King told the Post.