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Salem mascot to change after FSU threat

The Rockdale County Public School System Board of Education voted 5-2 on Thursday night to enter into an agreement on a settlement with Florida State University concerning both institutions’ Seminoles logo.

Salem High School may still be the Seminoles but the high school, along with Memorial Middle School, will have to stop using the image of the Seminole and spear after RCPS was notified about potential litigation by FSU’s licensing agent.

According to the Settlement and License Agreement, RCPS is to remove the Seminole head, Lady Seminole head and Spear marks from its websites and publications within 30 days, from football helmets on or before Aug. 1, 2011, from walls and floors of the school on or before Aug. 1, 2016, from all athletic uniforms on or before Aug. 1, 2016, from all band uniforms on or before Aug. 1, 2019, from baseball caps on or before Aug. 1, 2012 and from stationary once exhausted.

Salem has not yet decided on which direction it will take concerning changes to the Salem or SHS Seminoles mascot.

"Some sort of direction is still coming down, and I think in the next school day or so, probably early next week, we’re going to get some direction on what we need to do with the logo," Salem Athletic Director Maurice Gibson said.

The RCPS B.O.E. will now have to look at ways to make the changes as outlined in the settlement, striking a nerve of at least one board member.

"We are having to look at having to cut back programs because we don’t have the funds and yet we’re having to spend money on something like this," Darlene Hotchkiss said. "All the things we’re going to have to change – everything that has the symbol of the Indian head, the flor and the gym,. The football uniform, the letterhead. It’s an expense, on top of the fact the students are proud to be Seminoles."

The cost of fighting the battle in court could have been $250,000 for a federal case, said RCPS spokesperson Cindy Ball.

The news of FSU seeking a change to the logos was a startling one to some staff of Salem and the B.O.E.

"I think it’s a little bit extreme," Salem football coach John Starr said. "From my standpoint I can see how beneficial it is for a college to increase their name and increase their popularity.

"The biggest thing is the NCAA and its licenses are all about money. They forgot why they are in the business. The whole thing is licenses, merchandise and greed from the NCAA. I’m disappointed in the group."

Jean Yontz, a B.O.E. member who voted against the settlement didn’t understand why FSU would worry about a high school’s logo.

"I think it’s incredulous that a very large university would want to sue a small system, a small high school over the use of the Indian," Yontz said. "We’re not profiting off the logo. And how many high schools have the Bulldogs in the state of Georgia?"

Board member Jim McBrayer was with Salem when they decided to come up with the Seminoles’ name in 1991. Brandon Harwell came up with the name in a contest, and Salem has used it ever since.

"I was shocked that FSU would pursue something like that," McBrayer said. "It seemed like they would encourage something like that because it was a way of promoting their school."

FSU has reportedly pursued other high schools across the country that also use the Seminoles as their team name and logo.


(March 18, 12: 55 p.m.) IN BRIEF: Salem High School will still be the 'Noles but the high school have to stop using the image of the Seminole and spear after Rockdale County Public Schools was notified about potential litigation by Florida State University's licensing agent.

The RCPS Board of Education voted 5-2 on Thursday evening to enter the agreement with FSU to change the image and begin removing the current image from websites, letterheads, buildings, helmets, band uniforms and other such items.

Salem would be able to use the name Seminoles but would have to specify that they are the Salem High School or Salem or SHS Seminoles.

This would also affect Memorial Middle School, which also uses the Seminoles as its mascot.

Check back to later for the full story.