updated 10/23/2006 8:11:09 PM ET 2006-10-24T00:11:09

The College of William & Mary plans to phase out the use of two Indian feathers in its athletic logo in response to a ruling by the NCAA calling the imagery offensive to American Indians, the school has said.

In a letter to the Williamsburg school's community, college president Gene Nichol lashed out about the NCAA's sanctions that ultimately forced the school to stop using the green and gold logo it has had since the late 1970s.

''I am compelled to say, at the outset, how powerfully ironic it is for the College of William & Mary to face sanction for athletic transgression at the hands of the NCAA,'' Nichol wrote Oct. 10. ''The Association has applied its mascot standards in ways so patently inconsistent and arbitrary as to demean the entire undertaking.''

In August, the NCAA denied William & Mary's appeal of a ruling that prohibits it from using the logo at NCAA championship events or from hosting NCAA tournament games where the logo would be displayed. The school was allowed to continue using its Tribe nickname.

The ruling was part of an ongoing process by the NCAA to review the mascots, nicknames and logos used by more than 30 schools to see if they could be considered ''hostile and abusive'' to American Indians.

NCAA ‘encouraged’
''We're encouraged that they have made a move to discontinue use of the logo,'' said Bob Williams, an NCAA spokesman. ''From the beginning, the NCAA instituted this policy not as punishment but to ensure that our own NCAA championships are free from Native American imagery.''

Nichol said the school decided not to sue the NCAA after losing its appeal, declining to ''divert further energies'' to defending the logo. He said further action likely would have cost the school's athletes opportunities to compete.

''I will not make our athletes pay for our broader disagreements with a governing association,'' Nichol said, calling the decision the correct course of action, despite disappointing some in the community. ''We are required to hold fast to our values whether the NCAA does so or not.''

Nichol also touted the school's academic standards while pointing out issues taking place at other schools under NCAA supervision.

''Across the country, in the face of massive academic underperformance, embarrassing misbehaviors on and off the field, and grotesque commercialization of intercollegiate athletics, the NCAA has proven hapless, or worse,'' Nichol said.

Change planned for fall 2007
The school plans to replace the logo for the start of the fall 2007 semester through input from a committee of faculty and staff, students and alumni.

Terry Driscoll, the school's athletic director, said the school would not have gone through the appeals process if it didn't think it was doing the right thing.

''Our feathers are not hostile and abusive and we've tried to articulate that,'' Driscoll said. ''We're going to lose that brand ... We won't lose our identity.''

Driscoll said the department will begin to inventory where the logo appears, including scoreboards, equipment and facilities, to see what it will cost to replace them.

Several universities changed or agreed to change their nicknames or logos after the NCAA policy discouraging use of these names was announced in 2005. Other schools have filed appeals, seeking permission from the NCAA to continue use of the nicknames or logos. The University of North Dakota is the only school that has filed a lawsuit after its appeal involving its Fighting Sioux nickname was rejected.

Teams that have continued using Indian nicknames with the NCAA's blessing include the Florida State University Seminoles, Central Michigan University Chippewas and the University of Utah Utes.

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