The NCAA's decision last week to ban the display of American Indian images during its postseason tournaments -- aimed at member schools with Native American nicknames and symbols -- is unlikely to prompt similar action by the Virginia High School League.
Several high schools in the state have Native American-themed nicknames -- the Gar-Field Indians, for example -- but that is not a matter the VHSL intends to address, Executive Director Ken Tilley said.
"It's really a local school matter," he said. "That's a local decision that each community needs to deal with."
Blacksburg High School, in Virginia's Montgomery County, opted three years ago to switch its nickname from Indians to Bruins and, according to the Roanoke Times, middle schools in that district also dropped such names as Braves and Shawnees to become Titans, Colts and Mustangs. Maryland high schools have made similar nickname changes in recent years.
In its decision, the NCAA Executive Committee determined that it could not bar Indian mascots at its schools, but nicknames or mascots the NCAA deemed "hostile or abusive" could be barred from uniforms in any NCAA tournament after Feb. 1. The roughly 20 schools affected include the Florida State Seminoles and the Illinois Fighting Illini.
Gar-Field Principal Roger Dallek said his school's nickname has been a nonissue for about 10 years, at least since the last time the topic of its perceived offensiveness arose.
"We've always come away with the feeling that we're doing the right thing," Dallek said. "All of our symbols and all of our references to Indians are that they were proud and brave and courageous and symbols of an outstanding culture."