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Hawkeyes land Arkansas State on schedule after name change

BY BRENDAN STILES | OCTOBER 01, 2009 7:20 AM

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This weekend’s game between No. 13 Iowa Hawkeyes and Arkansas State Red Wolves may have never taken place.

That’s because up until last year, Arkansas State was known as the “Indians.”

The UI has a policy, implemented in 1994, which bars the athletics department from intentionally scheduling any competitions against schools with American Indian nicknames.

There are two exceptions to the UI’s policy, both of which are beyond the control of Iowa’s athletics department. One is the Illinois Fighting Illini, who were already in the Big Ten when the ban took effect. The other considers circumstances of postseason competitions or games that are a part of something like the Big Ten/ACC Challenge in basketball, where opponents aren’t deliberately decided by the athletics department.

In other words, unless it’s in a bowl game, don’t expect the Hawkeyes to play such teams as the Florida State Seminoles, Central Michigan Chippewas, or Utah Utes in football anytime soon, even though all three of those schools have support from their namesake tribes to keep their nicknames.

The rule has affected other Hawkeye sports, as well. For example, in 2004 the baseball team was set to play the Bradley Braves, as it had for several seasons, but then-Athletics Director Bob Bowlsby had to cancel.

Though the NCAA doesn’t ban schools with American Indian nicknames names from participating in postseasons, it does ban the use of logos and mascots of schools during such events.

Arkansas State Athletics Director Dean Lee said his school knew from observing other schools’ challenges that the Indian nickname would eventually have to be removed. The Arkansas State community has embraced the name change to “Red Wolves,” he said.

“With the generic term ‘Indians,’ we knew we didn’t have the legal procedure to go get an endorsement from a tribe,” Lee said. “By the time we made a decision, everybody knew that it was coming. They had seen everything else out there nationally, and I think they jumped in.”

Iowa Athletics Director Gary Barta said he wasn’t initially aware of the university’s policy upon arriving in Iowa City in 2006. But it hasn’t become an issue, he said.

“It has not been a significant challenge for us in terms of scheduling for our sports,” Barta said. “Certainly, we’re aware of it, we’re supportive of it, and we follow it.”

During his weekly press conference on Sept. 29, Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz echoed Barta’s sentiments about the policy as a nonissue in finding a 12th game for his team last year when Iowa’s 2009 football schedule was missing an opponent and a date needed to be filled. However, Ferentz said finding any opponent willing to play the Hawkeyes at Kinnick Stadium does have its difficulties.

“You’re probably paying more than you were 15 years ago to bring opponents in to play in your stadium,” Ferentz said. “A lot of us want to play at home for obvious reasons. It’s just a productive thing, so it’s really becoming competitive financially to find teams.”

As for this weekend’s game, the two schools agreed to play each other because the contest fit criteria for both. Iowa was looking for a home game against a non-BCS team from the Football Bowl Subdivision, and it was considered a “guarantee game” financially for Arkansas State, who has already played at Nebraska this season and will play at Louisville on Oct. 31.

The Red Wolves will take home a payout of $900,000 for coming to Kinnick.

“There was a mutual date, an available date for both of us, and it just came to play and worked out,” Lee said.


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