Thursday, August 25, 2005

Illini chief, you've got next appeal

From The Northwest Herald

Illini chief, you've got next appeal

In its haste for political correctness, the NCAA put the cart ahead of the horse, which, in this case, was Florida State's Appaloosa, Renegade.

Earlier this month, the NCAA tried to crack down on schools with "hostile" or "abusive" nicknames.

No longer would any school on the list be able to use nicknames or logos in postseason tournaments.

Florida State was on the list. So is Illinois, Bradley, Utah, Central Michigan and Alcorn State, to mention a few.

But that list is shrinking. Florida State won its appeal Tuesday when the NCAA recognized the relationship the university has with the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

In a statement, NCAA senior vice president Bernard Franklin said, "The decision of a namesake sovereign tribe, regarding when and how its name and imagery can be used, must be respected even when others may not agree."

It seems the NCAA could have discovered this before rendering such a decision earlier this month, thus saving itself a ton of work on appeals.

Watch now as Illinois, North Dakota and others, all schools that try to honor specific tribes or customs, line up for their shots at preserving their mascots.

Certainly, there are Native American nicknames that are not as respectful.

But Illinois, Central Michigan and Utah are representing tribes indigenous to their areas.

Chief Illiniwek's dance was derived from one done by the Ogala Lakota tribe.

The school purchased an outfit for Chief Illiniwek in 1982 from a 93-year-old Sioux chief, Frank Fools Crow.

That seems more honorable than hostile.

The NCAA likely will get a bigger dose of history on matters like this in the next few days than it ever dreamt.

The Utes, Chippewas and Fighting Sioux will come calling, appealing to be removed from the list like Florida State, with Chief Osecola riding Renegade.

Football does not enter the equation because there is no NCAA Division I-A football tournament (and really, as we all know, no need for one with the glorious BCS figuring out which undefeated teams will play for the national title and which will be left out).

But in the 2006 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament, Illinois, as it stands now, will not be able to use the Chief or that logo.

The NCAA may have overstepped its boundaries in trying to legislate out ethnic nicknames.

It only has itself to blame for the mess and the long line of appeals. When it could be conducting real business, it will be fielding one appeal after another.

Next ...

* Joe Stevenson is a sportswriter for the Northwest Herald. He can be reached at (815) 526-4513 or via e-mail at


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