Saturday, May 20, 2006

Illiniwek compromise possible, trustees say

Illiniwek compromise possible, trustees say
The Associated Press
May 17, 2006

URBANA, Ill. -- University of Illinois trustees said Tuesday they still believe they can reach a "consensus solution" with the NCAA that would resolve the debate over the Chief Illiniwek athletic mascot.
"The Board and the University community have been engaged in an effort to reach a consensus solution to the issue of the Chief," trustees Chairman Lawrence C. Eppley said in a statement. "We believe that this is an achievable goal."
The NCAA placed Chief Illiniwek on its list of "hostile and abusive" mascots in August, making Illinois ineligible to host postseason athletic tournaments. The NCAA executive committee rejected Illinois' final appeal of the decision April 28, although it can keep its Illini and Fighting Illini nicknames.
Supporters of the mascot, a student dressed in buckskins and headdress who dances at halftime, say it honors the state's heritage; opponents say it perpetuates a racial stereotype that demeans American Indians.
Illinois received a six-page written statement from the NCAA on Monday explaining its decision to reject the university's appeal.
"Illinois had multiple opportunities to present evidence in support of its position," the letter stated. "However, Illinois simply failed to present sufficient information to the staff review committee or the Executive Committee on which to conclude that the 'Chief Illiniwek tradition' should not be subject to the policy."
On Tuesday the NCAA said it added William & Mary to its list of schools subject to restrictions. The school can keep its "Tribe" nickname.
Copyright © 2006, The Associated Press

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Shelbyville family with Chief Illinwek heritage decries NCAA ruling as uninformed

Shelbyville family with Chief Illinwek heritage decries NCAA ruling as uninformed
The Herald and Review
SHELBYVILLE - An NCAA ruling against the University of Illinois' Chief Illiniwek symbol has members of one Shelbyville family sad and angry.
Sixty years ago, the late Robert Bitzer of Shelbyville, a student at the University of Illinois, was the eighth Illiniwek. Bitzer loved his role as the symbol of the Fighting Illini so much that went on his own to the 1947 Rose Bowl in Pasadena so he could be with the team.
"They didn't take as many people back in those days," Bitzer's widow, Marilyn, said. "The band didn't go with the team. Bob just got in a car and went."
The devotion to the University of Illinois and the Chief continued. Bob and Marilyn Bitzer attended the university, as did four of their six children.
One son, John, served as Chief Illiniwek from 1970-74, and another son, Don, was an alternate Chief during his college career. Bob Bitzer in later years shared stories of Chief Illiniwek and the American Indian culture with schoolchildren and Boy Scouts around Shelbyville.
"I think the first time was when our daughter Nancy was in third grade," Marilyn said. "Her teacher asked him to talk to the class. He always felt that the Chief was a symbol, not a mascot, and that's what he wanted people to know."
The Bitzers, like many other fans of the Chief, were upset when the executive committee of the NCAA ruled last month that Illiniwek is an image that is "hostile and abusive."
Former Chief John Bitzer, 53, a Collinsville attorney, said the ruling shows how little the NCAA knows about the legacy of Chief Illiniwek.
"The whole intent of Chief Illiniwek is to honor the past," he said. "The tribes of Illinois were warriors, and they were loyal to their tribes. That's what the Chief exemplifies."
John Bitzer said he received a few letters complaining about the Chief during his term as Illiniwek. He said he answered the letters with background information about the history of American Indians in Illinois and why the Chief was chosen to represent the University of Illinois. A member of the "Save the Chief" organization, he fears the Chief will be eliminated.
"I'm afraid the university won't have the stomach to stand up to this nonsense," he said. "There needs to be a judge rule that the NCAA is stepping out of its sphere of authority."
Bitzer said the NCAA's decision to let the Seminole Indian symbol of Florida State University stand while rejecting the Chief is an example of the organization's lack of understanding.
"They said Florida State could have their symbol because the Seminole tribe agreed," he said. "The Illini were a loose confederation of Illinois tribes. There's no one here now to speak about the Chief."
Douglas Cruitt, son of David and Nancy Bitzer Cruitt, is a December 2005 graduate of the University of Illinois and a member of "Students For Chief Illiniwek." He said students who want to save the Chief recognize the values he represents.
"They have respect for the honor and dignity he portrays," Cruitt said. "The Chief isn't a mascot, he doesn't cheer on the sidelines and he doesn't lead cheers. He represents Illini loyalty."
Cruitt compared the student population at the university to the American Indians of Illinois.
"We come together from all kinds of backgrounds and groups, and we have a loose confederation because we're all loyal to the university at the same time," he said. "Honor and loyalty; that's what the Chief is all about."

Friday, May 12, 2006

Options running out for U of I's Chief Illiniwek (Crain's Chicago Business)

Options running out for U of I's Chief Illiniwek
By Paul Merrion
May 12, 2006
The highly-ranked University of Illinois men’s tennis team takes to the courts today for the first round of regional championships without the home court advantage it’s enjoyed for the last few years.
That’s the first tangible impact of the latest and possibly final chapter in the long-running Chief Illiniwek controversy, which forced Team Illini, ranked eighth in the nation, to travel to 33rd-ranked University of Kentucky for the playoffs this weekend.
As the top regional seed, Illinois would have hosted the regional championship at its Champaign-Urbana campus, as it has for the last seven years, if not for Chief Illiniwek, confirms a spokesman for the National Collegiate Athletic Assn.
“The NCAA has the authority to insure that its championships are conducted in atmosphere free of racial stereotyping,” adds the spokesman for the NCAA, which issued a final decision April 28 banning schools with Indian mascots from hosting post-season play.
After almost two decades of controversy, the endgame is near for the 80-year tradition of Chief Illiniwek, a student in American Indian regalia who appears at football, basketball and men’s volleyball games.
With the powerful support of House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, R-Plano, a bill pending in the U.S. House of Representatives would give the university clearer legal standing to sue the NCAA and collect damages for lost revenues and legal costs.
However, a legislative remedy is considered a long shot, and the university isn’t pushing for it. Yet, if signed into law, a university spokesman says, “we would welcome the opportunity to restore our institutional autonomy.”
With time running out before the chief’s next scheduled appearance September 2 at the first home football game, the university is down to three unpalatable options.
It can sue the NCAA, which would be costly and time-consuming, with no guarantee of the outcome. Meanwhile, however, the sanctions against hosting post-season play would remain in effect.
It can refuse to comply, foregoing the status, revenues and competitive advantage associated with hosting playoff games. But that also “sends a bad message,” a university spokesman says, making it harder to recruit athletes and coaches.
Or, the university can do something to change the status quo, “something to be determined,” adds the U of I spokesman. “There could be an honorable retirement of the Chief tradition, or a changing of how the Chief tradition is conducted.”
To some, an Indian mascot is ethnically insensitive at best, or even a racist symbol of oppression. To others, Chief Illiniwek is an honored tradition and a revered symbol of the university.
Despite student-led efforts to retire the Chief and opposition from the National Coalition on Racism in Sports and Media, university trustees resisted the move and appealed last year’s decision by the NCAA to blacklist schools with Indian mascots, a decision that is now final.
University trustees met this week but the Chief’s fate was not scheduled to be on the agenda. A decision is more likely to be made this summer.
“The NCAA appears to have a gun to our head,” the university spokesman says. Some say “fight ‘em, create a legal defense fund, but I haven’t sensed the kind of intensity there was a few years ago.”

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Governor says NCAA "out of line" on Illiniwek

Governor says NCAA "out of line" on Illiniwek
May 11, 2006

SPRINGFIELD (AP) -- Governor Rod Blagojevich continues to keep his opinion about the University of Illinois' Chief Illiniwek private, but he said Thursday the NCAA should butt out.
Blagojevich said the decision whether the university's Urbana-Champaign campus should keep the Chief should be left to the school's board of trustees. The NCAA last month upheld its decision that Illiniwek is a "hostile and abusive" symbol and banned Illinois from hosting postseason tournaments if it keeps the mascot.
Blagojevich said the NCAA is, in his words, "out of line."
He said the proper forum for a decision is the university's board of trustees and said for him to express his opinion might, as he put it, "move the argument in an artificial way."
The trustees have not said what they intend to do in the wake of the NCAA's ban. They're meeting in Chicago on Thursday, but Illiniwek was not on their published agenda.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Trustees to deal with Weber's contract and Memorial Stadium, but Illiniwek not on agenda

Trustees to deal with Weber's contract and Memorial Stadium, but Illiniwek not on agenda
Associated Press

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Another contract extension for a basketball coach and approval for the first phase of a huge stadium renovation go before the University of Illinois Board of Trustees this week, but apparently there won't be any talk about Chief Illiniwek.
Discussion of Illiniwek - and the NCAA's ban on Illinois from hosting postseason athletic tournaments until the school does away with the controversial mascot - is not part of the board's posted agenda. And, barring a last-minute change of plans, is unlikely to be discussed at the Thursday meeting on the university's Chicago campus, university spokesman Tom Hardy said Monday. The agenda becomes final at 10 a.m. Tuesday, 48 hours before the meeting, in accordance with the Illinois Open Meetings Act.
"If there's going to be a board agenda item (on Illiniwek), it would have to be reflected in a revised agenda for the board meeting" before then, Hardy said. "I'm not aware of anything right now."
Instead, trustees will be asked to approve a third extension for Illini coach Bruce Weber that would put him under contract through the 2011-2012 season and to approve the first phase of a three-year $120 million renovation of Memorial Stadium in Champaign. Trustees also will consider a go-ahead for construction of a new student recreation center on the Springfield campus and $42 million in deferred maintenance needs at the Urbana-Champaign and Chicago campuses.
The 80-year-old Illiniwek tradition is once again front-and-center on the Urbana-Champaign campus after the NCAA upheld its decision to bar Illinois from hosting postseason tournaments because the Illiniwek image is "hostile and abusive" to American Indians. The April 28 ruling means the seventh-seeded Illinois men's tennis team was prevented from hosting the first and second rounds of the NCAA tournament this weekend, the first evidence of what athletic director Ron Guenther has called "an unbelievably negative effect" on the school's athletic program.
Guenther took some criticism from the public for his statement, but trustees Chairman Lawrence C. Eppley defended him.
"It might be harsh news, but he's right," Eppley wrote in an op-ed article that was published by The (Champaign) News-Gazette Sunday. "Guenther 'gets' winning. He 'gets' tradition. He also 'gets' that sometimes the best interest of the university is different than personal preference."
Weber's contract extension calls for increasing his pay for radio, television and other promotional appearances from $500,000 to $600,000 per year, an increase that will push his pay, including deferred compensation, to $1 million next season, according to documents filed with the board's agenda.
"I don't want to go anywhere. I don't want to move again," Weber said during an appearance on WDWS-AM in Champaign on Monday morning.
Construction on the first phase of the Memorial Stadium renovation - building new seating for 7,000 fans in the north end zone - won't begin until after the upcoming football season, but approval is needed now to secure construction permits and hire the construction company, according to agenda documents.
The pending approval for Springfield's new rec center includes a boost in the project budget from $14 million to $16.3 million. Construction would begin this month if the board signs off on the plans.
The board also will be asked to approve a series of projects made possible by its approval last month of a student fee for deferred maintenance. The first projects include replacement of the fire alarm systems at the university hospital and other buildings in Chicago and repairs to the university library in Urbana.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Bill in U.S. House challenges NCAA rule

Chief Illiniwek's days could be numbered

Chief Illiniwek's days could be numbered
Bloomington Pantagraph
By Jim Paul
Associated press

URBANA -- After years of debate over whether the University of Illinois' Chief Illiniwek represents honor or racism, time finally might be running out for the 80-year-old tradition.
Friday's decision from the executive committee of the NCAA that Illiniwek belongs on a list of imagery that is "hostile and abusive" likely means Illinois will have to give up the mascot or risk losing its ability to compete for championships on the athletic field.
The decision bars Illinois from playing host to future postseason tournaments, a factor, officials say, that would hurt the school's ability to recruit top athletes.
"The action that took place last week and what the university does about it has to be done in the context of the impact on the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics," university spokesman Tom Hardy said Monday. "Right now, we are not in compliance" with the NCAA ruling.
The effect will be nearly immediate. Despite its No. 8 national ranking, Illinois likely will be left out when sites are announced Wednesday for the opening rounds of the men's tennis tournament, which the school has hosted for eight straight years.
It is that kind of impact - on sports such as tennis, gymnastics, volleyball and soccer - that very well could mean the end of Chief Illiniwek.
"The department has invested large amounts of resources in facilities, scholarships and coaches in our Olympic sports," athletic director Ron Guenther said last week. "The inability to host NCAA competition would have an unbelievably negative effect on our programs."
The debate about Chief Illiniwek has raged for years on the university's Urbana-Champaign campus. Supporters say the tradition of a student dressed in buckskins dancing at halftime honors the state's heritage, while opponents say it perpetuates a racial stereotype that demeans American Indians.
The school has few options should it decide to challenge the NCAA
-Rep. Tim Johnson, R-Ill., whose district includes the UI campus, has said he has considered introducing legislation to prevent the NCAA from invading institutional autonomy. He also has expressed doubt that he could gain enough support.
-The university could challenge the NCAA in court. While some supporters of the Chief have called for this, it would be difficult. "It would be fairly costly to do. It would be very time consuming. It would create a kind of renewed rancor and divisiveness publicly," Hardy said.
-The university could retain Illiniwek and forgo playing host to postseason competition. Such a move might be viewed as contrary to the university's athletic mission to have the highest quality programs, ones that allow athletes to compete for championships.
On campus Monday, students were more concerned with preparing for final exams than with wading into the Illiniwek debate. Junior nursing student Sarah Nazarian of Champaign called the controversy a "silly situation."
"Maybe if I paid more attention to it and actually cared, it might make a difference to me. But I really don't care," she said.
Senior biology student Katherine Waser said she felt bad for the tennis team but had not known about Friday's decision until informed by a reporter. Civil engineering student David Osorio said the controversy has taken attention away from the university's accomplishments outside of athletics.
"My personal take is lose the Chief the first chance we get," he said.
Officially, the university's board of trustees is weighing its options, Hardy said. While tennis will be affected this spring, a final decision on Illiniwek's fate probably won't have to be made until just before football season late this summer.
But one observer who has followed the debate since it began is convinced the Chief's demise is imminent.
"The Chief is gone," said Loren Tate, a sports columnist for The (Champaign) News-Gazette and a supporter of the tradition. "I don't see any way out."

Copyright © 2006, Pantagraph Publishing Co. All rights reserved.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

UI trustees consider remaining options on Chief

UI trustees consider remaining options on Chief
By Christine Des Garennes
Saturday April 29, 2006
Has Chief Illiniwek danced his last dance at the University of Illinois?
The NCAA on Friday announced the UI cannot host championship events unless it gets rid of its American Indian symbol. But the university has yet to decide the exact fate of the 80-year-old symbol.
The fact is, it's a final ruling, said UI Board of Trustees Chairman Lawrence Eppley. "The ruling is in effect today, so we're subject to the sanctions. Right now we're out of compliance," said Eppley, who said he was disappointed with the NCAA announcement.
After the NCAA last August issued the policy prohibiting postseason competition at schools with "hostile or abusive" racial, ethnic or national origin mascots or symbols, the UI has been involved in a lengthy appeals process. The UI was one of 18 schools included on the list of institutions with "hostile or abusive" mascots or symbols.
During the appeals process, the UI did win the right to use the names "Illini" and "Fighting Illini," but not Chief Illiniwek.
What next?
" The board wants to take the final report from NCAA ... go through it carefully and take it into consideration with the guiding principles of their consensus process and make a determination on how to proceed from there," UI spokesman Tom Hardy said.
This consensus conclusion, which the board decided last July it would work toward, would be a resolution where not one particular interest group would be a winner at the expense of declaring others losers, Hardy said.
The board will meet May 11 in Chicago, and the topic of Chief Illiniwek may or may not be on the agenda, Eppley said.
Throughout the appeals process, the UI has maintained that it should resolve the issue itself. It also has said the NCAA Executive Committee exceeded its authority when it decided American Indian imagery was a "core issue" and set policy without following its bylaws.
On campus Friday, UI law student Josh Rohrscheib, outgoing co-president of the Illinois Student Senate, said student reaction has been mixed, and many are not sure what it will all mean. But most do agree on one point, he said: the issue sure is divisive.
" The whole point of a mascot or symbol, whatever you want to call it, is to unite a campus. The fact is, the Chief is a very divisive force on campus," Rohrscheib said. "The university has a tight budget. We don't have nearly as many academic advisers as we need. Class sizes are huge. There are so many more important things to be addressed. At the end of the day, the Chief is not doing what it's supposed to do."
What the ruling means for UI sports programs is that, in addition to not being allowed to host NCAA championships, the UI will be invited to participate in championships only if it does not have American Indian references on uniforms or associated athletic program activities.
"The inability to host NCAA championship competition would have an unbelievably negative effect on our programs," UI athletic director Ron Guenther said in a written release. "A ban on hosting NCAA championship events would put Illini athletics at a competitive disadvantage and make it hard to recruit top student athletes and coaches."
Part of the mission of the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics is for the UI to compete at Big Ten and national championships. And the athletic department has invested a lot of resources in its facilities and scholarships to do this, he noted.
Friday's ruling could cost Illinois the chance to host NCAA men's tennis tournament matches May 12-14.
Ranked sixth in the country, the Illini would be a certain pick as a first- and second-round site for the eighth consecutive year. The NCAA will announce sites Wednesday, and it's unclear if Illinois is eligible.
"We're certainly disappointed in the ruling," men's tennis coach Brad Dancer said from Minneapolis, where his Illini beat Northwestern on Friday in a quarterfinal match at the Big Ten tournament. "I know Ron (Guenther) is working with the board to see what solutions there are. We've got all of our balls in the school's court. We want the opportunity to host."
News-Gazette sports editor Jim Rossow contributed to this report.

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NCAA keeps UI on 'hostile and abusive' list; trustees looking at future options

DENIED- NCAA keeps UI on 'hostile and abusive' list; trustees looking at future options
Daily Illini
Courtney Linehan
Nine months after declaring American Indian imagery including Chief Illiniwek "hostile and abusive," the NCAA executive committee stood by its policy that the 80-year-old symbol is grounds for barring the University from hosting postseason sporting events.
The committee announced Friday that Illinois, University of North Dakota and Indiana University of Pennsylvania will not be permitted to host NCAA-sponsored championship events as long as they continue using American Indian mascots, logos or nicknames with their athletic programs. Those schools will also be prevented from displaying any references to American Indian imagery at postseason contests.
An earlier round of appeals resulted in a different NCAA committee declaring that the names "Illini" and "Fighting Illini" are a variation on the word "Illinois," and therefore are not offensive.
On Friday, the executive committee also determined that Bradley University in Peoria, Ill., which retired its American Indian mascot in 1989 but still goes by the nickname "Braves," would be removed from the list of offenders but will be on a watch list for five years to ensure its usage does not become offensive. Bradley is the only school to be placed on the watch list.
"The NCAA has the obligation and responsibility to ensure that its championships are conducted in a way that respects sportsmanship and recognizes the rights and respects the points of view and ethnicities of its fans and its players," NCAA President Myles Brand said in a teleconference Friday.
Controversy has enshrouded the Chief for more than 15 years. The University considers Illiniwek a symbol, not a mascot, in part because he only performs for a few minutes at halftime, and does not pal around with cheerleaders and band members throughout contests. Illiniwek only performs at regular season men's and women's basketball, football and volleyball games which the University hosts.
Illiniwek's supporters say he is a respectful tribute to American Indian culture, citing his authentic Ogallala Sioux regalia and dance steps that, while exaggerated, are rooted in American Indian fancy dancing.
"We think it represents tradition and does it respectfully, especially compared to other representations out there," said Allyn Ricci, sophomore in Education who serves as community service coordinator for Students for Chief Illiniwek, a Registered Student Organization.
But several campus groups disagree, saying the Chief is not authentic or respectful. Illiniwek's opponents say the symbol perpetuates a stereotype of American Indians and should be retired.
"It's the University, not the NCAA, that is hurting the athletics because the Board chooses to maintain a racist mascot, instead of dealing with the issue and giving the athletics the ability to host postseason play," Jen Tayabji, co-coordinator of Progressive Resource/Action Cooperative, an RSO that has declared itself anti-Chief, said in a press release Friday.
The University has adopted a wait-and-see policy to fighting the NCAA policy, and has been deliberate in dealing with nearly two decades of debate surrounding the University's symbol. Tom Livingston, who portrayed Illiniwek in the late 1980s when the controversy took center stage, said that measured approach has kept the tradition alive when hastier changes might have prematurely ended it.
"If the University changed course every time an outside body weighed in on Chief Illiniwek, we wouldn't have had the last seven portrayers of Chief Illiniwek," Livingston said. "The NCAA's characterization of the Chief as abusive and hostile, there's nothing I've seen publicly or privately behind-the-scenes that is abusive or hostile about this. I think they made the decision in a vacuum."
The University sent three appeals to the NCAA, and with the April 28 decision, exhausted its options in fighting the restrictions.
The appeals have centered around institutional autonomy - the NCAA, the University claims, does not have the authority to tell its member institutions what they can and cannot do. The University has repeatedly stated the NCAA is "the only game in town," and Illinois has no choice but to participate in NCAA contests.
"We've asked in our appeals, maybe too indirectly, 'Where is the limit of your jurisdiction? Where else do you want to tell us what to do?'" said Larry Eppley, chairman of the Board of Trustees.
The NCAA disagrees, however, and said Illinois has two options: discontinue the Chief Illiniwek tradition or stop hosting postseason competitions. If the University was banned from hosting postseason competitions, it would most immediately and most strongly affect Illinois' non-revenue sports - football and basketball do not host postseason contests. Ironically, Eppley said, the sports affected are the events where Chief Illiniwek does not perform.
There was little visible reaction from students when the final ruling was announced Friday. But Student Body President Ryan Ruzic, junior in LAS, cautions that this does not mean they are indifferent to Illiniwek's fate.
"I don't think it's the appeal being denied that students will care about," Ruzic said. "Rather, it's the actions the University will have to take that students will react to."
A March 2004 student government poll found that nearly 70 percent of the 13,000 students who voted supported retaining the symbol. Ruzic said the anti-Chief movement may have grown a little since that time, but the pro-Chief side still represents the majority of students.
Eppley said the University will not act hastily and will base its next move on what other schools do and how the NCAA responds to those actions. He would not say whether Illiniwek will perform at the Sept. 2 football opener, the Chief's next scheduled appearance.
"We've found that we've benefited by not reacting too quickly to things we learn from the NCAA," Eppley said. "It's served us well so far, and I suspect it will continue to serve us well."
© Copyright 2006 The Daily Illini

Illinois rejects Chief ruling, sends appeal

Illinois rejects Chief ruling, sends appeal
University argues they, not NCAA, have authority to handle Illiniwek

Daily Illini
Courtney Linehan
Illinois appealed a recent anti-Chief NCAA decision Tuesday, waiting until the last day before the University symbol would have been banned from postseason competitions and the school would have been barred from hosting championship events.
By sending the petition, Illinois will likely get an extension until at least April 27, two months after Chief Illiniwek's last scheduled appearance of the season. The appeal asks, however, that the University be exempt until the academic year ends May 15.
"We want to be removed from the list and we want to assert the University's principle of self-determination," University spokesman Tom Hardy said. "In order to do those kinds of things, we need to work through the NCAA's administrative process."
Hardy said the NCAA decision has distracted the Board of Trustees' from working to bridge the divide between Chief supporters and opponents. Illinois' latest appeal, signed by Board chairman Larry Eppley, said the board intends to make "hard choices" regarding the Chief tradition, but did not mention retiring Illiniwek.
"Some change in the status quo regarding the Chief Illiniwek tradition is possible," the appeal says. "The options are limited only by the parameters established by the University's board, whose members are deeply familiar and engaged with the issue."
The 28-page document sent to the NCAA Executive Committee uses several examples of case law - including Supreme Court rulings regarding the NCAA - to argue that the NCAA policy and recent rejection of an initial appeal "violate principles of institutional autonomy." The University has argued since the Aug. 5 policy change that Illinois should have the right to come to its own solution about the Chief, rather than be forced to comply with an outside organization's demands.
The NCAA is the governing body of intercollegiate athletics, but the appeal argues that its opposition to Chief Illiniwek steps beyond the athletic realm.
"This appeal … is about a policy that asks a member institution to decide between abandoning an 80-year-old tradition cherished by many or face diminished participation in NCAA championship events," the appeal says.
While the initial NCAA ruling on Aug. 5 prohibited 18 member schools from using their American Indian mascots, logos and nicknames, more than half the schools on that list are no longer affected. Illinois first appealed the policy on Oct. 14, asking that the term "Illini" and the Chief Illiniwek symbol be exempted from the NCAA prohibition so Illinois' Board of Trustees could continue independently pursuing a resolution to the 15-year-old debate. When the NCAA staff review committee ruled only half in Illinois' favor, saying "Illini" was not offensive, the Board decided to send an appeal directly to the NCAA executive committee.
That committee decided earlier this month that it would delay reviewing three other appeals - from North Dakota, Bradley and Indiana University of Pennsylvania - until its April 27 meeting. At that time it decided any school that sent a second appeal before the policy's scheduled start would automatically receive the same exemption.
The University argues that the Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights - which determined in 1995 that Chief Illiniwek did not create a hostile environment on campus - has the right to take action regarding the Chief. The NCAA, the University says, does not.
On Nov. 11 an NCAA staff review committee approved the use of the "Illini" and "Fighting Illini" nicknames. The committee ruled, however, that people outside the University could make the Chief Illiniwek symbol "hostile and abusive" despite the University's "good intentions and best efforts."
"By continuing to use Native American nicknames, mascots and imagery, institutions assume responsibility over an environment which they cannot fully control," Bernard Franklin, NCAA senior vice president for governance and membership, said in a prepared statement when the original Illiniwek appeal was denied.
The new appeal argues that the NCAA has yet to factually prove the Chief creates a "hostile and abusive" atmosphere. It further raises the issue that the NCAA never actually defined "hostile and abusive," its catchphrase for American Indian imagery it opposes, and arbitrarily singled-out schools to be subject to the ruling.
Additionally, the University claims the initial NCAA policy violates the First Amendment and antitrust laws.
"They never offered any outline or definition of what constitutes 'hostile and abusive' behavior," Hardy said. "They said in August they'd provide civil rights case law to support their position, but we're the ones who've provided that."
While this means that Illinois will be allowed to use the Chief Illiniwek symbol in the men's basketball postseason and can host other postseason tournaments, it does not mean that Illinois will change its policy of Chief Illiniwek not performing at the men's basketball NCAA tournament. The Chief has not appeared there since the Flyin' Illini competed in the Final Four in 1989.
Most of the 18 schools originally targeted have been removed from the "hostile and abusive" list for various reasons the University sees as arbitrary. Illinois' appeal asks that the decision be reversed, or at least limited to more specific sporting arenas.
"The NCAA policy sees black and white in areas where there's a lot of gray," Hardy said. "What other things could come up and how would those be handled?"
© Copyright 2006 The Daily Illini

University back where it started after yearlong debate

University back where it started after yearlong debate
Daily Illini

On Friday the NCAA Executive Committee determined that its initial labeling of Chief Illiniwek as "hostile and abusive" was accurate and grounds to prevent the school from hosting postseason sporting events. The decision concluded a yearlong process heavy on paperwork and rhetoric:

April 30, 2005 - The University is one of 32 schools to sends the NCAA self-evaluations on their uses of American Indian imagery. This is the second self-evaluation in as many years.
July 14, 2005 - University Board of Trustees approves guidelines for coming to a consensus resolution to the debate surrounding Chief Illiniwek.
Aug. 5, 2005 - NCAA Executive Committee rules 18 schools will be barred from hosting postseason competitions or from displaying their mascots, logos or nicknames when participating in those contests at other schools because American Indian imagery is deemed "hostile and abusive."
Aug. 23, 2005 - The Florida State Seminoles are removed from the "hostile and abusive" list after proving they have the support of the Seminole Tribe of Florida. This sets a precedent that other schools will later use to get off the list.
Sept. 2, 2005 - The Board of Trustees adds an eighth guideline to its Consensus Resolution policy, saying the Board will keep the best interests of the athletes in mind when deciding what to do about Chief Illiniwek.
Sept. 26, 2005 - The NCAA policy is extended to include BCS Bowl Games.
Oct. 14, 2005 - First appeal sent claiming anti-American Indian imagery policy violates the University's rights as an autonomous institution and that the term "Fighting Illini" is based on the name of the state.
Nov. 11, 2005 - The NCAA rules that Chief Illiniwek is offensive, but "Fighting Illini" gets the OK.
Jan. 9 - The NCAA says it will extend its Feb. 1 deadline for any school that has a pending appeal when that date comes. The University appeals in time for the stay.
March 29 - The University issues its third appeal, which is ultimately denied by the NCAA Executive Committee.
© Copyright 2006 The Daily Illini

Daily Illini Editorial: Save the last fancy dance

Editorial: Save the last fancy dance
NCAA denies appeal on the Chief, leaving consequences for Unversity
Daily Illini
In the May 1, edition of The Daily Illini, the editorial "Save the last fancy dance," incorrectly stated that the men's tennis team was "slated" to host the NCAA regionals. They were just a likely candidate. In addition, the editorial stated that Chief Osceola and the Utah Utes "were deemed inoffensive on grounds that were never explained clearly." Instead, they were deemed inoffensive because permission had been granted on behalf of their respective tribes to use the symbols.

For the sake of diffusing vociferous public criticism, NCAA has once again denied the University's appeal to be released from the "hostile and abusive" list for the use of Chief Illiniwek as its symbol. The capricious grandstanding by NCAA President Myles Brand and the self-righteous officials is not only unfair for its selective punishment, but seriously infringes upon the University's right for self-determination.

The NCAA ruling should appall even those who support retiring Chief Illiniwek. Unless the NCAA is going to start making decisions for every university, this is an egregious and completely arbitrary abuse of power by NCAA President Myles Brand and his cronies. The University is a body that makes its own decisions, and the decision to retire the Chief should come from its Board of Trustees. NCAA's high-handed tactics to strong-arm this institution into submission is simply unacceptable.

NCAA tries to sidestep the autonomy issue by arguing that it lacks the power to make the University retire the Chief. But the NCAA's ruling will pose problems for our school which will only multiply until we comply with their implicit mandate. There are consequences to retiring the Chief beyond just ending the halftime dance and taking off the Chief's likeness from uniforms. The University will lose a source of income from its licensing agreements. With the University's budget as tight as it is right now, cutting off any revenue is something that simply should not be done without a great deal of discussion and thought.

Moreover, though the Chief performs only at four sporting events (football, volleyball, and men's and women's basketball) every Big Ten sport is affected. The University is prohibited from hosting any postseason sports tournaments until the retirement of the Chief - including men's tennis, which was originally slated to host regionals this year.

In addition, the hypocrisy shown by Brand and Co. is simply a matter of selective enforcement. One would think, if the NCAA's ruling were in good faith, that mocking an entire race and ethnic group would be stopped, but Brand and the NCAA seem to think it's only some of the schools that use American Indian symbols that do this. Florida State's Chief Osceola and the Uta Utes are deemed inoffensive on grounds that were never explained clearly. Further, the icon for Notre Dame harkens back to the days when Irish immigrants were subject to violence and exploitation as the bottom rung of industrial American society and stereotyped as alcoholics.

The truth is that NCAA would not press the big-time programs like Notre Dame or Florida State. Brand & Co. will never try to enforce the rules with schools that bankroll the NCAA. It instead picks on schools like Bradley and Carthage, which pull no weight on the grand scheme of things, and this University, where external pressure just might tip the balance on the heated and unproductive debate over its symbol.

The University and its Board of Trustees must do everything in their power to repulse the NCAA from blackmailing this campus into submission. An open debate at the University among its students, faculty and staff about the future of Chief Illiniwek should continue, although the time for the trustees to make a firm stance is approaching quickly. Such an abrupt and illogical ending to the visceral conflict that has divided this campus for so long will leave this University scarred and impotent.
© Copyright 2006 The Daily Illini

NCAA Leaves University in Tough Spot

NCAA Leaves University in Tough Spot
From the Herald & Review

CHAMPAIGN - Friday's decision by the NCAA Executive Committee to reject the University of Illinois' second appeal on behalf of Chief Illiniwek backs the school into a difficult corner.
And it makes fans trying to figure it all out ask two questions: What happens from here? Will we ever again see Chief Illiniwek dance at a home football or basketball game?
Since the NCAA took it upon itself to become the moral conscience for college athletics, it is trying to rid the world of the dangerous and sinister influence of Native American symbols and imagery. Ruling those symbols "hostile and abusive," the NCAA ordered schools to drop those symbols, mascots, nicknames and imagery if they want to retain the right to host NCAA championships in any sport.
At Illinois, sports like tennis, soccer, volleyball, baseball, softball and gymnastics are prime candidates to host early-round NCAA tournament matches, a privilege that goes to teams ranked highest in their regions. Illinois is also a candidate to host future national championships, as men's gymnastics did in 2004.
Even basketball is a potential casualty, since the NCAA now owns the NIT and allows teams with good home attendance records to host early-round games.
We realize there are some fans who will say, "The heck with those sports. Football and basketball are the only sports that matter. Let's thumb our nose at the NCAA and preserve the Chief at all costs."
Director of Athletics Ron Guenther adamantly disagrees with that stance, having said, "One of the components of the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics' mission statement is to compete at the highest levels for Big Ten and national championships. The department has invested large amounts of resources in facilities, scholarships and coaches in our Olympic sports.
"The inability to host NCAA championship competition would have an unbelievably negative effect on our programs," Guenther said. Such a ban, he said, would put Illini athletics at a competitive disadvantage and make it hard to recruit top student-athletes and coaches.
Keep that thought in mind.
Right now, it would seem the university has three choices.
One, it can accept - albeit reluctantly - a decision the NCAA called "final" Friday. That means the Chief will never again perform as part a university athletic event. It means the university can no longer market or sell the Chief logo or likeness. It means Decatur's Kyle Cline would become a footnote in history as the last person to portray the Chief full-time.
Two, you can take the position of the imaginary fan I quoted above. That's the position that says, "Screw the NCAA. Only football and basketball matter and we should continue to celebrate Chief Illiniwek at halftime of our games even if it means never again hosting an NCAA championship event."
Or, three, the university could take the NCAA to court, perhaps convincing a judge to rule that the NCAA has overstepped its bounds. That would likely be a long and expensive process and it may have to be funded by private funds, since Sen. Emil Jones, an anti-Chief advocate who is president of the state senate, has said money spent litigating this would be subtracted from the university's budget.
In that case, however, the NCAA would simply say they haven't taken away the right of a school to retain its Native American symbols and imagery. They've simply protected their own right to award championship competitions wherever they choose and they will choose not to award them to schools whose mascots dance around in a feathered headdress.
If there's a fourth option, it's this: The university could elect to temporarily retain the Chief through the end of the upcoming football season. Call it a Farewell Tour, but there might be a feeling that Chief Illiniwek deserves a prolonged going-away tribute rather than simply chopping him out of the picture abruptly and ingloriously.
Then, after the Chief danced a final time at the last home game Nov. 11, the university could announce it would comply with the NCAA's directive, a move that would take its name off the NCAA's bad boy list.
That delay would eliminate the tennis team's chance to host early-round NCAA tournaments next month, although those already may have been lost, and it could impact next season's soccer season. But that might be a reasonable price to pay if we want to celebrate the Chief one more fall.
University big-wigs were meeting on Friday, kicking around all the options. At some point they'll announce a course of action.
Further down the road, there are sure to be efforts to sustain the Chief Illiniwek tradition by organizations not affiliated with the university. It's been suggested the Alumni Association might be that group, but that strikes me as stepping into a gray area that might incur the NCAA's wrath.
Some other outside group, however, could independently choose to preserve the history of Chief Illiniwek and arrange for performances before each home football and basketball game. Those might take place one hour before kickoff at the intersection of First Street and Kirby, which, so far as I know, is not technically university property.
And no matter what happens, there's nothing to say 60,000 Illini fans couldn't show up at the home football opener Sept. 2 wearing a Chief-like headdress.
At this point, the NCAA still can't dictate what individual fans wear to the games, although I wouldn't be surprised to learn they are looking into it.

From Inside Illinois: NCAA edict threatens Chief Illiniwek tradition

NCAA edict threatens Chief Illiniwek tradition
Inside Illinois
Vol. 25, No. 20, May 4, 2006

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) issued a final ruling April 28 against the UI’s continuing use of Chief Illiniwek. Absent a change in this 80-year-old tradition, the NCAA will prohibit the school from hosting NCAA championship events.Athletic Director Run Guenther recently commented on the potential sanction: “One of the components of the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics’ mission statement is to compete at the highest levels for Big Ten and national championships. The department has invested large amounts of resources in facilities, scholarships and coaches in our Olympic sports. The inability to host NCAA championship competition would have an unbelievably negative effect on our programs.” It is believed a ban on hosting NCAA championship events would put Illini athletes at a competitive disadvantage and make it hard to recruit top student athletes and coaches.The NCAA issued its policy banning American Indian imagery last August. The university challenged the policy and the rhetoric attached to it.In the first round of appeals, the university won back the right to use the names “Illini” and “Fighting Illini” for all its athletic teams. Subsequent appeals continued to disagree with the NCAA on the allegation that the Chief tradition creates a “hostile and abusive” environment, matters of institutional autonomy and a flawed policy process. “Our decision is final,” declared NCAA Executive Committee chair Walter Harrison in making the April 28 announcement.“By branding an 80-year tradition ‘hostile and abusive,’ the NCAA inappropriately defames generations of Illinoisans and University of Illinois supporters,” said Lawrence C. Eppley, chair of the UI Board of Trustees.“The University of Illinois is disappointed by the NCAA Executive Committee’s final decision to uphold a policy that is capricious in its design and implementation,” Eppley said. “The NCAA’s insistence on dictating social policy for a few select member institutions intrudes on the University of Illinois Board of Trustees’ autonomy and the board’s process for reaching a consensus conclusion on issues regarding the Chief Illiniwek tradition. In determining a course to follow, we will consider our options in the context of the NCAA’s final pronouncement and the consensus process guidelines adopted by the board.”

Sunday, April 02, 2006

UI officials issue rebuttal to NCAA

Mirror of

UI officials issue rebuttal to NCAA
Jodi Heckel
Thursday March 30, 2006

INDIANAPOLIS – In a document sent to the NCAA this week, the University of Illinois reiterated its arguments that the NCAA Executive Committee exceeded its authority in establishing a policy on the use of American Indian imagery.

It also said the NCAA has not provided evidence that supports the policy, and it is only now identifying a standard of review for appeals and defining the terms "hostile" and "abusive."

The UI sent a six-page rebuttal signed by Board of Trustees Chairman Larry Eppley to the NCAA on Tuesday. The UI appealed the NCAA's policy regarding its use of Chief Illiniwek on Jan. 30. An NCAA staff committee filed a response to that appeal earlier this month, and the UI's most recent filing rebuts the arguments made by that committee.

The committee stated that American Indian imagery is a "core issue" affecting the NCAA and so the Executive Committee has jurisdiction over the issue. But the UI says the NCAA Executive Committee doesn't have the power to enact legislation, and its bylaws specifically state the establishment and control of NCAA championships are part of the legislative process.

"Moreover, the NCAA's position would give the Executive Committee virtually unlimited power," the rebuttal states. "If the NCAA is correct, the Executive Committee could issue policies on any issue it unilaterally deems to be a 'core issue.'"

The NCAA response stated it relied on "extensive research and analysis" in establishing its policy on American Indian mascots. The UI says the NCAA hasn't specifically identified that evidence or made it available.
The UI also reiterates its claims that the NCAA has ignored a 1995 federal Office of Civil Rights finding that the presence of Chief Illiniwek did not constitute a racially hostile environment, and the dismissal of a lawsuit alleging a violation of the Illinois Civil Rights Act.

Finally, it argues the NCAA staff committee relied too heavily on a single unpublished academic study by a doctoral student on the psychological impact of American Indian mascots.

The NCAA established its policy last August. The policy prohibits schools that it deems use "hostile or abusive" American Indian mascots, nicknames or logos from hosting NCAA championship events, or from displaying such imagery at those events.

The UI first appealed the NCAA policy last fall. The NCAA found the name "Fighting Illini" was acceptable, but Chief Illiniwek was not. The UI then filed its second appeal at the end of January regarding the use of Chief Illiniwek

The NCAA policy was to go into effect Feb. 1, but the organization said any sanctions would be delayed until the end of April, when the Executive Committee next meets. In its January appeal, the UI asked for enforcement of the policy to be stayed until the end of the school year on May 15.

The documents filed by the UI and the NCAA can be found on the UI's Web site at

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Chief Among the Silliness - George Will


Chief Among the Silliness
The Washington POst
By George F. Will
Thursday, January 5, 2006;

The University of Illinois must soon decide whether, and if so how, to fight an exceedingly silly edict from the NCAA. That organization's primary function is to require college athletics to be no more crassly exploitative and commercial than is absolutely necessary. But now the NCAA is going to police cultural sensitivity, as it understands that. Hence the decision to declare Chief Illiniwek "hostile and abusive" to Native Americans.

Censorship -- e.g., campus speech codes -- often is academic liberalism's preferred instrument of social improvement, and now the NCAA's censors say: The Chief must go, as must the university's logo of a Native American in feathered headdress. Otherwise the NCAA will not allow the university to host any postseason tournaments or events.

This story of progress, as progressives understand that, began during halftime of a football game in 1926, when an undergraduate studying Indian culture performed a dance dressed as a chief. Since then, a student has always served as Chief Illiniwek, who has become the symbol of the university that serves a state named after the Illini confederation of about a half-dozen tribes that were virtually annihilated in the 1760s by rival tribes.

In 1930 the student then portraying Chief Illiniwek traveled to South Dakota to receive authentic raiment from the Oglala Sioux. In 1967 and 1982, representatives of the Sioux, who had not yet discovered that they were supposed to feel abused, came to the Urbana-Champaign campus to augment the outfits Chief Illiniwek wears at football and basketball games.

But grievance groups have multiplied, seeking reparations for historical wrongs and regulations to assuage current injuries inflicted by "insensitivity." One of America's booming businesses is the indignation industry, which manufactures the synthetic outrage needed to fuel identity politics.

The NCAA is allowing Florida State University and the University of Utah to continue calling their teams Seminoles and Utes, respectively, because those two tribes approve of the tradition. The Saginaw Chippewa tribe starchily denounces any "outside entity" -- that would be you, NCAA -- that would disrupt the tribe's "rich relationship" with Central Michigan University and its teams, the Chippewas. The University of North Carolina at Pembroke can continue calling its teams the Braves. Bravery is a virtue, so perhaps the 21 percent of the school's students who are Native Americans consider the name a compliment.

The University of North Dakota's Fighting Sioux may have to find another nickname because the various Sioux tribes cannot agree about whether they are insulted. But the only remnant of the Illini confederation, the Peoria tribe, is now in Oklahoma. Under its chief, John Froman, the tribe is too busy running a casino and golf course to care about Chief Illiniwek. The NCAA ethicists probably reason that the Chief must go because no portion of the Illini confederation remains to defend him.

Or to be offended by him, but never mind that, or this: In 1995 the Office of Civil Rights in President Bill Clinton's Education Department, a nest of sensitivity-mongers, rejected the claim that the Chief and the name Fighting Illini created for anyone a "hostile environment" on campus.

In 2002 Sports Illustrated published a poll of 351 Native Americans, 217 living on reservations, 134 living off. Eighty-one percent said high school and college teams should not stop using Indian nicknames.

But in any case, why should anyone's disapproval of a nickname doom it? When, in the multiplication of entitlements, did we produce an entitlement for everyone to go through life without being annoyed by anything, even a team's nickname? If some Irish or Scots were to take offense at Notre Dame's Fighting Irish or the Fighting Scots of Monmouth College, what rule of morality would require the rest of us to care? Civilization depends on, and civility often requires, the willingness to say, "What you are doing is none of my business" and "What I am doing is none of your business."

But this is an age when being an offended busybody is considered evidence of advanced thinking and an exquisite sensibility. So, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has demanded that the University of South Carolina's teams not be called Gamecocks because cockfighting is cruel. It also is illegal in South Carolina.

In 1972 the University of Massachusetts at Amherst replaced the nickname Redmen with Minutemen. White men carrying guns? If some advanced thinkers are made miserable by this, will the NCAA's censors offer relief? Scottsdale Community College in Arizona was wise to adopt the nickname "Fighting Artichokes." There is no grievance group representing the lacerated feelings of artichokes. Yet.

© 2006 The Washington Post Company

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Illiniwek appeal denied

Illiniwek appeal denied
From: The Daily Illini
By Courtney Linehan

Chief Illiniwek is hostile and abusive despite the University's "good
intentions and best efforts," the NCAA announced Friday as it denied
Illinois' appeal of its inclusion in a policy banning American Indian
imagery from postseason contests.
Four weeks after receiving Illinois' appeal, the NCAA staff review
committee changed its tune of the past few months, stating the names
"Illini" and "Fighting Illini" are not American Indian-based and
therefore do not create a "hostile and abusive" environment on campus.
Chief Illiniwek, the association said, is another case.
"By continuing to use Native American nicknames, mascots and imagery,
institutions assume responsibility over an environment which they
cannot fully control," Bernard Franklin, NCAA senior vice-president
for governance and membership, said in a prepared statement released
Friday. "Fans, opponents and others can and will exhibit behaviors
that indeed are hostile and abusive to Native Americans."
The NCAA refused to comment beyond Franklin's one-page statement. A
request Friday to speak to media relations representatives was denied
and e-mails earlier in the week were not returned.
University spokesman Tom Hardy said the University sees the NCAA
response as a victory on the Illini and Fighting Illini names, but a
setback in regard to Chief Illiniwek and the Board of Trustees' work
toward its own decision.
"The case was basically that the Board has its self-autonomous
institutional process and should be able to carry that out without
interference from the NCAA," Hardy said.
Franklin's statement did not mention anything about the University's
argument that the NCAA policy interfered with the Board of Trustees'
own guiding principles regarding Illiniwek. In 2004 the Board adopted
a "consensus resolution" policy, saying it hoped to bring Illiniwek
supporters and opponents together to find the best solution for the
campus and community. The Board approved a set of guidelines for
coming to this resolution at its July meeting, a few weeks prior to
the NCAA policy's release.
"Obviously, the University and the Board of Trustees felt
institutional autonomy and self-determination are a major reason for
the institution to be exempt from the list," Hardy said. "It is
apparent by its response that the NCAA wasn't persuaded by that
argument yet, as they had minimal response to that in their decision
announced Friday."
Board Chairman Lawrence Eppley said in a press release that he is
grateful the NCAA agreed with the University that "Illini" is a term
derived from the name of the state and is not a reference to the
people who once lived here.
"I am pleased the NCAA recognized what we've maintained all along,"
Eppley said. "'Illini' is taken from the name of our patron state and
'Fighting Illini' refers to our University's winning spirit and drive
to excel."
Hardy said the official response sent to the University addressed the
1995 U.S. Office of Civil Rights finding that Chief Illiniwek did not
create a hostile environment on campus. He said the NCAA cited
anecdotal evidence suggesting there have been instances of hostility
since then, but he added that the University recently began a
faculty-led inquest into whether Chief Illiniwek affects students'
"It's a bit of a head scratcher when you consider that the Office of
Civil Rights is an entire agency to ensure the enforcement of the
Civil Rights Act," Hardy said. "They came in, spent time on campus,
talked to a lot of people and watched Chief Illiniwek perform."
Franklin's statement said the NCAA's decision was based on the staff
review committee's own research, discussions with relevant American
Indian groups and information provided by the University.
While the NCAA release did not provide further detail, John Froman,
chief of the Peoria Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma, said the NCAA did
contact him. The Peoria are the descendents of members of the
"Illiniwek" confederation.
Froman said he told the NCAA that the term "Illini" was not a part of
the Peoria language, and that his tribe was never called the Illini.
He said the NCAA asked if he'd had recent contact with the University
regarding the Chief, and what the tribe's official position regarding
Chief Illiniwek was.
"I told them the Chief was not representative of our tribe and
culture, mainly because the costume is Sioux," Froman said.
Hardy said the Board has not decided how to handle the NCAA's denial
of the Chief Illiniwek portion of the appeal. The next appeal option
is for the University to go directly to the NCAA executive committee.
The NCAA continuously reiterates that its goal is not to force any
school to alter its mascot, logo, or nickname. The requirement, the
association says, is that member institutions comply with the NCAA's
non-discrimination policy and "promote an atmosphere of respect for
and sensitivity to the dignity of every person."
"At an ever-increasing rate of occurrence and volume, Native
Americans have expressed their objections to the use of names, terms,
imagery and mascots associated with athletic teams," Franklin's
statement said.
No immediate change is planned at Illinois; Chief Illiniwek appeared
as scheduled at volleyball and women's basketball games this weekend.
He will perform when men's basketball opens its regular season against
South Dakota State on Friday and when football closes its season
against Northwestern on Saturday.
While the Board is not scheduled to meet again until January, it
could possibly add a meeting to discuss the NCAA decision.
"The Board hasn't determined when it's going to make a decision about
what the next approach is going to be," Hardy said.
The NCAA policy, which goes into effect Feb. 1, 2006, prohibits the
display of American Indian mascots, logos and nicknames in
NCAA-sponsored postseason competitions. It also prohibits NCAA members
using American Indian imagery from hosting postseason events. These
include NCAA-sanctioned Division-I bowl games, men's and women's
basketball NIT tournaments and post-season tournaments for all NCAA
So far, at least half of the 18 schools originally deemed "hostile
and abusive" have appealed:
-The Florida State Seminoles, Utah Utes and Central Michigan
Chippewas got the OK because namesake tribes supported the uses.
-The Bradley Braves, Newberry College Indians and Illinois Fighting
Illini appealed but lost and remain on the list.
-The North Dakota Fighting Sioux appealed, lost and are currently
awaiting a decision on their second appeal.
-The Indiana University-Pennsylvania Indians and McMurray University
Indians appealed, but have not received word from the NCAA.
-The Catawba College Indians and University of Louisiana-Monroe
Indians are both preparing appeals.
-The Arkansas State Indians are considering an appeal. The
Southeastern Oklahoma State Savages are re-evaluating the use of their
-Midwestern State dropped its "Indians" name to avoid application of
the NCAA policy. Carthage College changed its nickname from "Redmen"
to "Red Men," which the NCAA approved.
-Alcorn State, the only school on the list with a representative on
the NCAA Executive Committee, says it has no plans to appeal and is
considering a name change.
-Calls to Chowan College (Braves) and Mississippi College (Choctaws)
were not returned by press time.

Where Illinois' past meets Oklahoma's future

Where Illinois' past meets Oklahoma's future
The Daily Illini
Courtney Linehan

MIAMI, Okla. - It's 86 degrees of dry heat on an October Sunday. A
thin film of harvest dust hangs in the air, carried through town on a
warm breeze. Rows of cars fill the Wal-Mart parking lot, but the old
downtown is nearly lifeless; fast food joints like Taco Bell and KFC
serve a slow stream of customers while diners down the road stand
empty, closed for a day of rest.
Miami, Okla., is 490 miles from Champaign, but it might as well be a
quick trip down Interstate-57 for the parallels you'll find. Miami has
the same strip of new development you'll see driving down Prospect,
only scaled to fit a town one-thirteenth the size. Ottawa County, of
which Miami is the seat, has virtually identical poverty and
employment rates as Champaign County.
Just one clear difference divides Miami from Champaign. It doesn't
become apparent when ambling through town or driving down Main Street.
It isn't announced on billboards as you drive into town; there are no
indicators of what makes Miami unique. Its only overt image is a
cluster of office buildings on a street running parallel to
Miami is headquarters for nine American Indian tribes, each forcibly
relocated to Oklahoma more than a century ago. There are no Indian
reservations here. No boundaries declare where Ottawa land ends and
Modoc begins. In Ottawa County, 22.8 percent of residents claim
American Indian heritage. Governments of Miami's nine sovereign
nations intermingle and work in conjunction with local, state and
national leadership. Their aim is to provide services to their tribe
members and, in doing so, to improve the overall quality of life for
Miami's 13,700 residents.
In Champaign, the University of Illinois is deep in a 15-year debate
about its Chief Illiniwek symbol and Fighting Illini nickname. Whether
the University will retain or retire the Chief is a common topic of
conversation on campus - but in Miami, members of the Peoria Indian
Tribe of Oklahoma, the descendents of the "Illiniwek" tribes that once
inhabited Illinois, focus more on local economics and tribal
government than on the controversy at a college two states away.
Peoria Chief John Froman has other things on his mind besides
Illinois' ongoing debate.
Froman emerges from his white minivan wearing a striped polo shirt
and worn, ripped jeans. Stepping onto the sidewalk in front of his
office, he rubs the grease from his fingers onto his pants before
holding his hand out in greeting.

"Sorry I'm late," he apologizes for the 10-minute delay. "My
daughter's car broke down when she was on her way back from school.
I've been messing with the engine all day."
Froman says he prefers to worry about problems directly affecting his
family. That's why he ran for Chief of the Peoria tribe - his Peoria
heritage has always been an important part of his identity. He spent
his childhood mowing grass at the tribal cemetery for his grandfather,
who was Chief at the time. Froman devotes his time to serving his
2,800 tribal members, who live in Miami, Okla., throughout the country
and around the world.
"Our Chief's a good man," said Peoria tribe member Don Pogue. "He
listens to the people, listens to what they say. He's a good honest
For the Peoria, life in northeast Oklahoma is about economic
development. Froman grins as he tours the competing Ottawa Tribe's
casino and his bigger, newer, more upscale version down the road. He
enjoys playing a round of golf at the Peoria Ridge course with Rascal
Flatts when the country music superstars are in town to perform at the
Peoria-owned Buffalo Run Casino. He takes the company SUV off-roading
across mounds of red Oklahoma dirt as he surveys tribal property
leased as grazing land and construction on the new road to the
traditional tribal cemetery.
"We've been in the Internet business, we do agri-business, but our
primary focus has been trying to operate as a government," Froman
said. "What we're trying to do, economically, is diversify."
More than 300 years ago, the ancestors of today's Miami lived west of
the Ohio River in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio and
Wisconsin. They spoke variations of the Algonquin language. They are
best known for building the mounds at Cahokia some 2,000 years ago and
for a defiant, yet unsuccessful, stand during a battle at Starved Rock
in the 1760s. They were closely tied to the Miami tribes - two of the
four tribes now part of the Peoria were Miami sub-groups until 1818.
Now the Miami tribal buildings are a few steps from the Peoria's, and
the two tribes work hand-in-hand on services offered to members of
both tribes.
"We are very fortunate that we work so well together," said Miami
tribe Chief Floyd Leonard. "We have our differences, but they're
mostly political. We are always wiling to help someone in need."
Today's Peoria tribe is a confederation of the Kaskaskia, Peoria,
Piankesaw and Wea tribes. Prior to the Civil War, the U.S. government
moved them to Missouri, then to Kansas. The four groups formally
united in 1854, forming the Confederated Peoria. In1867 they were
moved again, this time to present-day Oklahoma.
"Everybody talks about the Cherokee and their Trail of Tears," Froman
said. "Well, we all had our own version of the Trail of Tears."

The present day Peoria work to maintain their tribal heritage, with
projects to restore the tribal schoolhouse built circa 1870 and
extensive interaction with the Illinois State Museum to identify and
rebury American Indian remains unearthed in Illinois.
While some members of the original tribe remained in Missouri or
Kansas, becoming U.S. citizens, today's Peoria are descendents of
those people who settled in Ottawa County.
"We don't deny them their Indian heritage," Froman said of the
descendents of those who stayed behind. "But we all have to live with
the choices our ancestors made."
Finding a hotel room in Miami on a Saturday night can be a challenge.
The small town has a Microtel and a Best Western, among other options,
but those fill up fast when the Buffalo Run Casino puts on a concert.
In less than one year of operation, Buffalo Run has hosted more than
50 entertainers, ranging from musicians such as ZZ Topp and Blake
Shelton to boxing matches broadcast on Showtime. An expansion opened
in early October, and plans are in the works for more casinos,
restaurants and possibly a hotel.
"We're in negotiations with some developers for a hotel. I actually
want to build a strip of casinos, a boardwalk. Our biggest competition
here is casino hopping, people saying 'Aw, we didn't do well here,
let's go to the Quapaw casino down the road.' We're going to own the
casino down the road."
While the casino's first-year returns were certainly successful,
Froman said the Peoria are lucky to break even on their combined
business ventures. Total tribal revenues on all enterprises -
including the golf course, agri-business, lease holdings and gaming
operations - should be about $4 million, Froman said. But the more
than 300 jobs those projects bring to Miami make the businesses very
"We're barely breaking even; we're just here to provide jobs for the
community," Froman said.
When the Peoria received a Bureau of Indian Affairs grant to pave the
road to their golf course, the money paid to pave a two-mile stretch
of Ottawa County highway. When they received another grant to pave the
road to their cemetery, the Peoria looked at which route would most
benefit the community.
Miami's nine tribes make the most of their combined potential. The
town has a clinic where members of any tribe can receive subsidized
healthcare, and the Miami tribe offers free lunch to American Indian
elders in the community. Many tribes have housing authorities, but
they work together to offer services to the maximum number of people.
"We lost a lot of our land, and how we lost it I don't really know it
was just over the course of years, but we're starting to get a lot of
it back in tribal trusts," Pogue said. "There's a lot more that
they're doing for the tribal members now, college funds, grants. Just
a lot of things that aren't a whole lot, but when it's all said and
done, it really is."
As for the University of Illinois' Chief Illiniwek symbol, the Peoria
have little to say. In 2000 the tribal council issued a 3-2 vote in
opposition of Chief Illiniwek, and they plan to stick with their
position. They say they are two states and two centuries removed from
"As for the position of the tribe, it stands," Froman said. "(Chief
Illiniwek) is not Important.

Resolution critical of NCAA edict (News-Gazette)

Published Online November 3, 2005


    SPRINGFIELD – Without discussion, the Illinois House on Wednesday approved a resolution challenging the NCAA's authority to restrict postseason competition for schools making use of American Indian imagery.
    State Rep. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet, said he planned to fax a copy to the NCAA president's office immediately.
    "It's none of their business what symbol the University of Illinois or any university has," Rose said. "It's up to the board of trustees, the alumni, the faculty, staff and the students."
    HR 609 states that the NCAA's action fails to recognize the institutional autonomy guaranteed in its own bylaws.
    "Whereas the National Collegiate Athletic Association edict is a giant step backwards in the debate and has caused the loss of common ground to armies of divisiveness; therefore, be it resolved by the House of Representatives of the 94th General Assembly of the State of Illinois that the National Collegiate Athletic Association be denied the ability to compromise the sovereignty of the State of Illinois and its institutions," the resolution said.
    The measure passed on a voice vote, and no nays were audible in the chamber. Last week, the House higher education committee unanimously endorsed the resolution.
    "The university and the board of trustees appreciate the Illinois House's support for the principle of university self-determination on this matter," said UI spokesman Tom Hardy.
    The NCAA did not appear likely to change its stance as a result of the resolution.
    "Basically our position is that we have the authority to administer our own NCAA championships to ensure that they are conducted in an atmosphere that's free of racial stereotyping," said NCAA spokesman Bob Williams.
    Area lawmakers emphasized that the resolution deliberately did not contain any mention of Chief Illiniwek.
    "The point here isn't to be for or against the Chief, the point here is that it's none of the NCAA's business," Rose said.
    State Rep. Naomi Jakobsson, D-Urbana, was among nearly 70 co-sponsors on the resolution.
    "I voted for this because I believe that it is the responsibility of the University of Illinois and the trustees and they have been working on this," she said. "And the resolution just gives the autonomy to the university to continue to do what they've been doing and let them do their job."
    The UI Board of Trustees agreed last year to work toward a "consensus conclusion" on the issue and adopted guidelines in July to help in that endeavor.
    Earlier this month the university filed an appeal with the NCAA, arguing that decisions on the use of Chief Illiniwek and the name "Fighting Illini" fall under the jurisdiction of the board of trustees, not the NCAA.
    The appeal also stated that the NCAA failed to take into account a 1995 Office of Civil Rights finding regarding Chief Illiniwek, and relied heavily on "inaccurate, incomplete and misleading information supplied by one individual," to which the UI was not given an opportunity to respond. Williams said he did not know when a decision would be reached on the UI's appeal.

...continued at

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Illinois fans still divided...

Illinois fans still divided over use of mascot
Some support NCAA ban while others cheer for Chief Illiniwek.

Controversial symbol: The Chief, portrayed by student Kyle Cline, takes part in the pregame festivities before Illinois plays its home game against Rutgers. -- Darrell Hoemann / Associated Press

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Chief Illiniwek danced at halftime of the University of Illinois' football opener Saturday to the enthusiastic rhythmic clapping of thousands who added their approval with long, deep chants of "CHIEEEEEF," "CHIEEEEEF."

There were cries of protest, too, but they went largely unheeded as Kyle Cline, a student dressed in buckskins and turkey feathers, took the Chief Illiniwek tradition into its 80th season.

He double-stepped the length of the football field, doubled back to stand at midfield through the singing of the "Three-in-One" medley of Illinois songs and finished with his solo dance, a lively performance full of high kicks and jumps.

A mockery of that dance was performed earlier outside Memorial Stadium by William Cook, a man wearing long braids and a Chicago Blackhawks shirt painted to add: Nobody's Mascot. He hopped and jumped in a frenzied manner, finally jumping up to touch both toes.

His dramatic demonstration was meant to show that the time-honored Chief Illiniwek dance mocks true Native American culture, and his fellow protestors, standing beneath a sign proclaiming "NCAA IS RIGHT," agreed.

Most Illini fans trooping past him on the west side of Memorial Stadium just shook their heads.

No one on this campus needed to ask what was meant by the sign, which referred to the Aug. 5 announcement by the NCAA that Illinois was one of 18 universities that would not be allowed to use their Native American nicknames, mascots or symbols at NCAA-sponsored championships.

The NCAA cannot tell its members what it can do on their own campuses, however. The NCAA policy also does not go into effect until Feb. 1, and other schools, most notably Florida State, have successfully appealed. Florida State was able to show that Seminoles in the state supported the use of their name.

Illinois is the biggest university still on the list and has one of the most controversial figures in the person of the Chief.

Officially, the University of Illinois still is considering its next move as newspaper columnists, radio call-in shows and letters to the editor debate the question.

In the meantime the Chief dances, fans wear CHIEF T-shirts and Chief shirts, hats and souvenirs are on sale just yards from the small group of protesters.

The four who turned out to back the NCAA's decision blamed the early hour (the game began at 11 a.m.) and the holiday weekend for the small turnout. Besides, not everyone who agrees with them wants to stand around holding a poster.

"There was a time when people would spit on us or throw beer on us," said Sherry Naanes, who said she has been taking this stand for about 10 years.

Roger L. Fontana, an anthropology student at Champaign's Parkland College who said he is one-quarter Cherokee, takes special exception to the Chief Illiniwek dance.

"Real Indians were not allowed to do their own dances when the Illiniwek tradition began in 1927," Fontana said. "Native American dancing was made illegal in 1890, right after the massacre at Wounded Knee, and when it was allowed again, there were a lot of restrictions on it.

"The dance he does is not accurate. He's dressed as a war chief in a bonnet that would be worn only by someone who had been to war."

Fontana was happy to explain his objections to anyone who would stop. Few did.

Most fans glanced at the group and passed without comment. Some said, "Go, Illini!" And a few paused long enough to shake hands and offer a word of encouragement.

Erin Murphy, an Illinois graduate student, said, simply, "Thanks for being here."

Emily Lewis, 66, a graduate of Illinois and a lifetime resident of Champaign, stopped to ask if the protest group had any buttons or pins she could wear to show her support of the effort to eliminate Chief Illiniwek.

"I think it's a disgrace," she said. "I believe it's a racist symbol."

It's hard to find a consensus anywhere on the subject of Native American nicknames and mascots. Naanes said she knew of Seminoles who didn't support Florida State's choice of mascot.

Courtney Linehan, who writes for the Daily Illini student newspaper, said she saw the protesters outside the stadium and recognized them as regulars. "The controversy isn't new," she said. "It's been going on here for about 15 years.

"I think most people on campus are hoping for a resolution."

One woman in the stands wore a T-shirt with the Illiniwek logo and the message: "It's an Illini thing. You just wouldn't understand."

Friday, August 26, 2005

News Hour with Jim Lehrer Transcript (PBS)

News Hour with Jim Lehrer Transcript (PBS)

August 25 , 2005

The NCAA banned the "hostile and abusive" Native American mascots of 18 colleges and universities from postseason tournament play. Some schools are fighting to keep their imagery intact. A report looks at reactions from both sides of the debate.

ELIZABETH BRACKET: The moment the University of Illinois' Chief Illiniwek bursts onto the football field is a thrilling one for many Illinois students and alumni. It's also a heart-stopping moment for the performer. Tom Livingston remembers the feeling from his two seasons as Chief Illiniwek in the late 1980s.

TOM LIVINGSTON: When you would burst forth from a hidden position into fifty or sixty thousand people, it was like soaring over a cliff and up into a thundercloud. I mean, the energy, the electricity you felt not only as the person portraying Chief Illiniwek, but also the person observing it, either in an arena or in the stadium, and I think that makes people feel very strongly about it, very attached to it.

ELIZABETH BRACKET: But the chief's performance does not evoke the same feelings in everyone who watches. In 1989 Charlene Teeters, a Native American graduate student, launched a solitary protest against Chief Illiniwek. In the documentary, "In Whose Honor," she says her protest began after taking her two young children to an Illinois game.

CHARLENE TEETERS: My kids, my kids just sank in their seats. My daughter tried to become invisible. My son tried to laugh. With me is the sadness that still won't leave me. But the sadness turns to anger just like that.

ELIZABETH BRACKET: The protests against using Native American imagery in athletics have grown over the last thirty years. In August, the NCAA stepped in and banned colleges and universities that use what it termed hostile and abusive mascots, nicknames or imagery from hosting post-season play. Eighteen schools were affected. Florida State University immediately appealed, saying there was nothing hostile or abusive about their Chief Osceola or Seminole nickname. This week the NCAA relented, citing the Seminole Tribe's approval of the use of their name. The University of Illinois is also considering an appeal. Larry Eppley chairs the university's board of trustees. He was very disturbed by the words used by the NCAA.

LARRY EPPLEY: And they characterized the traditions of 18 institutions as hostile and abusive.

ELIZABETH BRACKET: Why did you object to that so strongly?

LARRY EPPLEY: Well, we've been living with it for quite a long time. Almost since the inception of the debate over Chief Illiniwek rhetoric played a large part in it, and what we found was rhetoric did more to divide people than to ever steer anybody towards an outcome that they found acceptable. It created sort of a knife edge: Either the chief is up or it's down.

ELIZABETH BRACKET: The passions and the rhetoric surrounding the chief and the team's nickname, the Fighting Illini, do run high. Unlike the Seminole Tribe in Florida, the Peoria Tribe, the direct descendants of a group of tribes known as the Illiniwek or the Illini, do object to Chief Illiniwek and have asked the University of Illinois to stop using what they consider to be a degrading racial stereotype. So far the university continues to support the chief.

LARRY EPPLEY: It's tradition; it's university tradition. These things take root. They pass on from generation to generation. I can't tell you how many cards and letters we get from a grandparent saying I'm so happy my granddaughter or grandson is down there; I'm so happy the chief is still there.

ELIZABETH BRACKET: The chief's ceremony has been a part of the university's athletic events since 1926. Former chief Tom Livingston says the authentic costume and the ceremonial dance he performed in 1998 and as still performed today are designed to honor the Native Americans' history and their contributions to Illinois' culture.

TOM LIVINGSTON: I've looked tribal leaders in the eyes, I've looked other people that this is special to, and it ranges from "we're okay with it" to "it's beautiful; it's inspirational." There are some hard-nosed alumni who come back years later, and those tears begin to shed when they are inspired from an earlier day when they were younger at the university. And the chief attaches that to them, I think, often.

ELIZABETH BRACKET: Chief Illiniwek's performance is closely tied in with the 300-strong Illinois marching band. At the first practice of the year the band is working hard on the classics, like the school's alma mater. Band director Tom Caneva says the chief is a critical part of the halftime atmosphere.

TOM CANEVA: You know, at a lot of the universities at halftime, the people in the stands leave and go get hot dogs and drinks and things. At Illinois they stay and, you know, we hope they are there to see the Marching Illini perform, but, you know, they're there to see Chief Illiniwek perform.

ELIZABETH BRACKET: Less than 1 percent of the 38,000 students at the university are Native American. Many of the Illinois students we spoke to strongly support the chief.

DANA MAZZUCA: I'm pro-chief ever since I've been here. I don't think it's disrespectful in any way.

STEPHANIE LULAY: I think it's a great tradition for our school, and I think if it did change, a lot of alumni would be upset.

JESSICA WYNNS: I think that he should stay. I don't understand why there's such a dispute about it.

ELIZABETH BRACKET: The gulf between those who support the chief and those who are offended by him is deep. Native American Shannon Kobe watched a performance by the chief last season.

SHANNON KOBE: I, frankly, was personally just shocked and appalled.

ELIZABETH BRACKET: Why is it racist?

SHANNON KOBE: It's reducing Indians to feathers, buckskin, beads. That's not what our culture is about. It's just narrowing in on one very small aspect of our culture, and in the Indian culture dancing has never been used solely for entertainment value. It's always had religious, other connotations.

ELIZABETH BRACKET: Kobe, an attorney, has sued the University of Illinois, charging that continuing to allow the chief to be the university's symbol violates the Illinois Civil Rights Act. Professor Stephen Kaufman has objected to Chief Illiniwek and the nickname Fighting Illini for years. He thinks the university should have jumped at the chance the NCAA ruling gave it to end the controversy.

STEPHEN KAUFMAN: For so many years the leadership of the campus and the board of trustees have not been able to find a way out, and here the NCAA is stepping forth presenting an extraordinary opportunity, and instead of taking that opportunity, Mr. Eppley appears to be squabbling over language used by the NCAA.

ELIZABETH BRACKET: Do you think the trustees were on their way to reaching some sort of consensus?

STEPHEN KAUFMAN: The trustees have been on their way for 15 years. It's a good thing they don't have to pay tuition.

ELIZABETH BRACKET: Illinois' football team is not worried. There is no post-season play in football, and Illinois does not have a large-enough facility to host NCAA post-season play for basketball. But all Illinois sports would be affected if schools follow the NCAA's strong suggestion that schools not schedule games with any school that uses native-American imagery. The new NCAA policy doesn't take effect until next February. The University of Illinois and the 16 remaining affected schools have until then to appeal.