Tuesday, May 03, 2005

UI sends Chief report to NCAA

Courtney Linehan


The University sent a report Friday in response to a request from the NCAA that it and 30 other member institutions self evaluate their uses of logos, nicknames and mascots deriving from American-Indian terms.

The report came after the NCAA's Minority Opportunities and Interests Committee requested a six-month investigation. The deadline to respond was Sunday.

Illinois sent the NCAA a 13-page report and 27 related documents, including the 2000 Dialogue on Chief Illiniwek report, documentation of two Chief-related lawsuits and copies of various Board of Trustees motions regarding the issue.

"We took it very seriously, and I think basically it afforded us an opportunity to review so much that's already been done by this institution," said Tom Hardy, executive director for University Relations.

In asking the 31 schools to complete self evaluations, the NCAA hoped to develop a better understanding of why schools use American-Indian imagery, said Gail Dent, NCAA associate director of public and media relations.

"The NCAA requested that select schools in its membership complete the self evaluations as an additional resource to examine ongoing use of American-Indian imagery, which includes mascots, logos, behavior and nicknames," Dent said.

Illinois' report emphasized that the Chief Illiniwek symbol continues to be a topic of controversy on campus and that the Board of Trustees is working toward a consensus resolution to the issue.

The document detailed the main arguments in support and opposition of the use of the Chief Illiniwek symbol. It briefly summarized the history of the Illini name and how it is used around campus.

While the report emphasized that the University does not have a mascot, significant space was dedicated to discussing Chief Illiniwek, his role in the University environment and the debate surrounding him.

Hardy said the length to which the campus community has debated the Chief made it easy to assemble the information requested without doing additional research.

"So much input has come from every direction of those involved in the issue, and every point of view is represented, every action that has been taken is represented," Hardy said. "I think it's going to be a valuable resource for the NCAA, a valuable resource for our Board of Trustees as they move forward, and certainly for anybody else who wants to learn more about the issue."

Illinois is not the only campus on which the school's use of American-Indian imagery has been a hot topic. Schools such as University of North Dakota, UNC-Pembroke and Florida State have spent considerable time determining whether to continue the use of their mascots, logos and nicknames.

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