A new nickname and mascot for Northeastern State University will come from four to six names to be released Thursday, officials said Friday.

NSU met Friday’s deadline to update the National Collegiate Athletic Association of its plans to shuck the nickname “Redmen.”

NSU hopes to announce in May what the new nickname and mascot will be, said Vice President of University Relations Neil Weaver.

“We put together a task force of 40 people representing all groups and communities across the area and on Aug. 15 started taking suggestions on our Web site for a new mascot,” Weaver Said.

NSU President Dr. Larry Williams notified the NCAA by phone of actions taken and will submit a written report next week, Weaver said.

The Web site has been accessed by more than 1,500 people — with more than 450 suggestions.

The task force will meet Monday to determine from four to six finalists. Those names will be put on the Web site and people will vote on their choice. Voting booths will be on campus for students and available during home games for alumni to participate.

NSU has hired Rickabaugh Graphics, based in Columbus, Ohio, which works with activity and sports groups across the country, to help with some focus groups. Rickabaugh will then begin the process of developing art for new logos and making graphics, Weaver said.

The voting should stay open through the end of October and then the task force will take input from the focus groups and voting and look at some preliminary art work.

“The task force will select a name by December,” Weaver said.

From January through May 2007, the art and graphics will be finalized, as well as a costume, Weaver said. NSU hopes to announce the new mascot will in May, he said.

NCAA rule optional, but difficult to refuse

The NCAA can’t force NSU to change the name “Redmen,” Weaver said.

“We have a choice, sure. They do not have the power to force any institution to change the name, nickname, mascot or logo.

“It’s the institution’s decision.

“However, institutions who are members of their organization who choose not to adhere to their policy on Indian names and mascots can be sanctioned by the NCAA.”

Such institutions cannot host NCAA events or participate in any NCAA event with that name (Redmen) on anything — even cheerleader, sport or band uniforms or signs held by fans. NSU can’t have the name “Redmen” in their fight song, Weaver said.

The only exceptions are namesake institutions, such as the Florida State Seminoles, because it is the Seminole tribe’s namesake, Weaver said.

“Redmen is not a namesake name,” he said.

NSU Cherokees was among the 450 names suggested, but it wasn’t recommended as much as some other names, Weaver said.

Cherokee Nation Councilor Bill John Baker said he was not aware the name Cherokees could be an alternative, that when he went to the Web site it said it was not possible to have anything Native American.

Thirteen of 15 Cherokee tribal councilors present in a committee meeting Thursday voted 10-2 Thursday against supporting the “Redmen” as the school’s nickname.

Councilors voting to support the name Redmen were Baker and Joe Crittenden. Absent were Johnny Keener, Linda O’Leary and Melvina Shotpouch.

Reach Donna Hales at 684-2923 or dhales@ muskogeephoenix.com.

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