Friday, August 26, 2005

Chief items still available on NCAA site

Chief items still available on NCAA site 
 

By JODI HECKEL
© 2005 THE NEWS-GAZETTE
Published Online August 26, 2005
 
   URBANA – NCAA officials may find the Chief Illiniwek logo and the name "Fighting Illini" to be "hostile and abusive" to American Indians. But they will sell you merchandise featuring the logo and nickname at their online store at www.shopncaasports.com.
   Among the items for sale are a pillow featuring the Chief Illiniwek logo and name "Fighting Illini" for $14.99, a ball cap with a Chief head logo for $17.99, and a 14-karat gold bracelet of linking Chief heads for $546.68.
   The merchandise on the Web site is arranged by school and includes several other items with the Chief head logo, including a street sign that says "Fighting Illini Ave.," blankets and jewelry.
   Fans can also buy a University of North Dakota hockey jersey with an Indian head logo, a University of Utah pillow with the name "Utes" and feather logo, a Central Michigan University wall clock with the name "Chippewas," and an Arkansas State University bean bag chair with the name "Indians."
   The NCAA recently banned such mascots, logos and nicknames – which it called "hostile and abusive" – from being displayed at any NCAA postseason events and prohibited schools using such American Indian imagery from hosting postseason events.
   "It is ironic that the NCAA's merchandising Web site is an online market for traditions and imagery they condemned three weeks ago," said UI spokesman Tom Hardy. "Maybe those traditions aren't hostile and abusive after all.
   "I think this underscores the fact that many of these traditions and images are honorably ingrained in the fabric of intercollegiate athletics in America and eliminating them is neither easy nor necessarily rational," he continued, "and that's a pretty good indication of why our board has a deliberate, measured approach toward a solution that makes sense for our institution and that the vast majority of people can live with."
   Bob Williams, a spokesman for the NCAA, said the organization decided to keep the merchandise on the Web site until the effective date of the restrictions on the use of American Indian imagery, which is Feb. 1, 2006. He said schools have until that date to ask for a review of the restrictions.
   "I believe it's consistent with the policy," Williams said of continuing to sell merchandise with American Indian imagery until then.
   "After Feb. 1, that imagery won't be part of any NCAA championship."
   He said the NCAA is paid a flat fee by CBS through a rights agreement to televise NCAA events and sell merchandise through the Web site, which states it is "in association with CBSSportsline.com".
   He said the NCAA does not receive money from the individual purchases made through the Web site.

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