It's Official: Chief's Gone

The University of Illinois Board of Trustees has just released a press release saying that Chief Illiniwek will no longer perform at U of I games. More coming.

Last Dance, But Still Many Questions Hanging

At 9:44am, WILL AM 580 read from an official UI press release... The last dance will be at the men's basketball game on Feb. 21. It seems prompted by a letter from the NCAA confirming that the UI will immediately have its suspended eligibilities restored. This is posited on the University ceasing all further use of the "chief" or his image. The press release leaves several important questions unanswered. Most importantly, will the BoT take the low road and trade the "chief's" image to the ex-"chiefs"? Privatizing a racially insenstive mascot and his image seems duplicitious. It would be about like George Wallace dressing his state troopers in KKK robes because he didn't like the way that whole desegregation thing was going. Stay tuned, as the wailing and knashing of teeth are certainly not over among "chief" supporters and the issue is still very much alive. Getting the UI back to hosting post-season NCAA activities doesn't begin to address the significant body of concerns raised by many students, faculty and alumni about the maintenance -- and afterlife -- of the regrettable mascot.

Text of the Press Release

Chief Illiniwek Will No Longer Perform NCAA to lift sanctions on Illini athletics URBANA—The University of Illinois today announced that Chief Illiniwek will no longer perform at athletic events on the Urbana-Champaign campus after this season’s last men’s home basketball game in Assembly Hall on February 21. As a consequence, the University will immediately become eligible to host post- season National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) championship events. In a February 15, 2007, letter to the University, the NCAA stated that “[o]nce this action is taken, the university will be immediately removed from the list of institutions subject to the NCAA Executive Committee’s policy regarding Native American mascots, nicknames and imagery at NCAA championship events. Continued removal from the list is conditioned upon the university’s future non-use of ‘Chief Illiniwek’ and the related Native American imagery in connection with university athletics. “Assuming the announced changes are affected and assuming such use does not reoccur, the university will be in full compliance with the policy,” the letter stated. “Accordingly, the policy will not preclude the university from hosting or participating in NCAA championship events, should the university be otherwise eligible.” The NCAA letter was signed by Bernard Franklin, senior vice president for governance, membership, education and research services. U. of I. Board of Trustees Chair Lawrence C. Eppley said today’s announcement marks a critical step toward finishing the work of the consensus process. “This step is in the best interest of the University and is consistent with the Board’s previously stated goal of concluding this year its consensus process regarding Chief Illiniwek. Among our objectives was recognizing the goal of having high integrity athletic programs and student athletes who have the opportunity to compete at the highest levels,” Eppley said. “We made and met many friends through the consensus process. And while people differed on their opinions of the Chief, the overwhelming majority of those voices put their love for the University ahead of their opinion on the Chief,” Eppley said. “The Chief Illiniwek tradition inspired and thrilled members of the University of Illinois community for 80 years,” Eppley said. “It was created, carried on, and enjoyed by people with great respect for tradition, and we appreciate their dedication and commitment. It will be important now to ensure the accurate recounting and safekeeping of the tradition as an integral part of the history of the University. We also have the responsibility to work together to capture and put to good use the goodwill created by the tradition and to maintain other great traditions like the Three-In-One for decades to come.” The Chief Illiniwek tradition began in 1926 in conjunction with the Marching Illini, the nation’s premier marching band. Criticism of the tradition intensified in recent years, although the symbol and iconic halftime performance remained popular among alumni and the public. The Board of Trustees’ consensus process for resolving issues regarding Chief Illiniwek was underway when the NCAA Executive Committee established its policy in August 2005. During two rounds of appeals by the University to the NCAA over its policy, the NCAA rescinded its objection to the names “Illini” and “Fighting Illini” but retained Illinois on its non-compliant list because of the Chief Illiniwek name, logo and the performance. The University exhausted the NCAA appeals process last April and since then has been banned from hosting NCAA championship events on the Urbana campus.

Link to More

and let me add

It's about time. Congratulations to the Board of Trustees for finally bringing this to a close.

Interesting and Raises Legal Issues

I did previous extensive reporting on the issue of possible violations of the federal Bald Eagle Act at UIUC in connection with the "chief" tradition. We now have some specific accounting of the "chief's" regalia over the years. History of Chief Illiniwek Regalia on the University's website at the link above. Reading through it, I see where there appear to be several possible violations of the Bald Eagle Act. Another link Current Regalia has been inaccesible so far. This part of ths story will continue. Ask questions. Get answers. Hold them accountable. It's not a tradition, where it is a crime.

logos gone too... now let's get a new mascot.

This: "Continued removal from the list is conditioned upon the university’s future non-use of ‘Chief Illiniwek’ and the related Native American imagery in connection with university athletics." has me somewhat encouraged. Apparently it's not just the dance and the live guy, but also, it would seem, the logo. However THIS: "The University of Illinois today announced that Chief Illiniwek will no longer perform at athletic events on the Urbana-Champaign campus after this season’s last men’s home basketball game in Assembly Hall on February 21." makes me wonder if someone is trying to make essentially an "Elks Club" type "tradition" out of it. I suppose as long as it's not actually part of the University, it will be eligible for lawsuits on its own, and I do think the "tradition" would die out before too long, but still. Hopefully with the Oglala Sioux asking for the costume back and the feds ruffling their feathers, so to speak, the costume will not be available for private men's club performance. I also wonder just what more room there is for "consensus" to happen? Unless we're talking consensus about a NEW MASCOT, which I certainly hope we will. Having the three in one, okay, to an extent, but... does that mean that now we have even LESS of a mascot? Even if you ignored the whole issue of the Chief's offensiveness, simply having a pseudo-religious all solemn and teary-eyed ceremonial deal instead of a regular cheering mascot was, well... lame. If they want to still have that, only now without ANY mascot at all, it just gets even more lacking. Please don't misinterpret me - I'm thrilled the Chief is gone, I've said it was a matter of time now for at least 12 years. But I don't want remnants of it to prohibit coming up with a new imagery, logos, and a real mascot, either. Play the three in one if you must, but let's have some new imagery and a guy in a suit, too. Heck, they could play that "we all live in a capital I" song from Sesame Street... and it'd be an improvement, at this point. -- Itazurakko. 残念ながらこのスレも釣り禁止…

Next mascot: the zombie Chief

You're right -- our mascot is now the Zombie Chief. Neither living nor dead, neither on the field nor replaced by a successor, neither fully respected or fully repudiated. It's Night of the Living Chief. @%<

Fighting Tim Johnsons

I'm still holding out for the "Fighting Tim Johnsons" - the mascot could wear sweatpants and power-walk around the field.


Maybe it's my lack of attention to college athletics, but can someone explain for me exactly what the 'three-in-one' is - I saw it in Eppley's comments too, but have no idea what he is talking about.

three in one

The three in one (link pops to is, as the name implies, "three in one." It is a combination of three of the traditional Illinois fight songs, "The Pride of the Illini", "The March of the Illini", and "Hail to the Orange," into one piece, with a special marching arrangement for the Marching Illini. This combination of songs started in 1926, the same year as the Chief, and is part of the halftime show. It's very emotionally associated with all things Chief now as he comes out during the march, in the center of it. So, there could certainly be a "three in one" with that march and then glaringly, no Chief! And everyone cries... hopefully not, or if they do it PLEASE let it be only for one big weepy farewell, and then something containing a new rallying mascot can be invented to unite all the fans. We've got to make a CLEAN BREAK. -- Itazurakko. 残念ながらこのスレも釣り禁止…

What Eppley Said

Well, the chair of the BoT said he thought retaining the three-in-one was OK, but he didn't sound like he's thought it through yet what the implications of that are like you have. Yeah, solemnly staring at the court or field is going to be almost wierder than seeing the "chief" do his thing. The zombie "chief" will be gone soon enough, but the zombie fan may be marching around and around and around the Assembly Hall... this sound like the plot for a locally made horror film, "Night of the Zombie Illini." And it sounds like people still have an opportunity to pick up "chief"-themed merch for some time. Eppley said that they will honor existing contracts for such knick-knacks and tourist gear. I'm not sure how that squares with the NCAA's insistence that use of the "chief's" image end.

Snorting Johnsons?

How about calling 'em the Snorting Johnsons? Then the mascot could take out the end zone lines, dance around manically, and then follow-up by begging for dollars, while reminding them about how he's been "servicing his constituents," in endless phone calls to the cellphones of everyone who bought a ticket. The lack of end zone markings after half-time may get them into trouble again with the NCAA, though. And then there is another interpretation of Snorting Johnsons, which is a little rude, but really no worse than His Sliminess himself.

Congratulations to everybody

Congratulations to everybody who worked for so many years to make this happen!!!! It's wonderful news to hear!

The Chief

Nothing says freedom and democracy like being blackmailed into changing your ways in order to fit someone else's view of the way the world should be. It's too bad we never got the chance to vote on the issue like an actual democracy would and should. I guess the way to facilitate change is to get someone in power to force the change regardless of what the majority of people want. It's a proud day for Illinois and the United States.

it's all over

Like I said, it's all over but the whining. @%<

On both sides, as is obvious

On both sides, as is obvious on this site. Now that the whole issue of racism at the U has been solved, I wonder what the kneejerk conserverals/liberatives will butt heads over next in the ongoing wars of the trivial?


Actually, I'd guess it was mostly about getting off the NCAA's shitlist. Sorry to disappoint you.

the U of I is not a democracy

I would have loved to vote on a referendum on keeping the chief, actually. it would have been nice to have been asked if I, as a community resident, wanted my community to be represented by a white dude dancing around in turkey feathers pretending to be a Native American. Because I would have said "no". babs

New Mascot

They should change the mascot to the cowboy, or pioneer, or small pox.

oh wait

I guess if we let the mascot be cowboy or pioneer those groups might digress into whiny punk-ass bitches. We should keep it small pox, they can't protest. Well I guess people could protest on small pox's behalf, for small pox rights. We should just get rid of mascots altogether, and sports, and tv, and commericals, and half-time shows, and art and books.

you know

It takes so pitifully little to cause some lives to collapse. @%<


The Illinisaurs. Fierce? And yet, goofy too. It can spit flames out. It can be shortened to "Illini" if you need. Think, a big suit, tail, blue and orange, with spots, and backplates... could be cool. /props to Zych -- Itazurakko. 残念ながらこのスレも釣り禁止…

The Zombie Future

What will the U of I do if someone is caught selling new Chief merchandise 6 months from now? What will the U of I do if members of a tailgate party outside the stadium have one of their members perform the Chief thing in full Headdress and buckskins? I say keep your eye on the trademark...What the U of I does with the trademark of "Chief Illiniwek" is going to determine who stands to soon profit from the local backlash against the removal of their mascot. Like the confederate flag in the south, Chief regalia in East Central Illinois will become a symbol of defiance to the Politically Correct Academic Pointy Heads in the ivory towers. If anyone is interested in the local reaction to the removal of the Chief, AM 1400 WDWS Newstalk Radio is where the Honor the Chief Society Headquarters is located. 9:00a.m. to 11:00a.m. every weekday this week will be Jim Turpin hosting a live call-in radio talkshow called "Penny for Your Thoughts". The sudden new interest in civics by basketball and football fans is stunning. They now want to know who Mr. Emil is, they want to write Governor Obama, they want a new board of trustees, and they want to fire the University President. And most galling for these loyal Orange and Blue fans is the fact that their right to vote on the Chief issue was stripped away from them by a few loudmouth minorities with nothing better to do than drive from Chicago to push their PC agenda on everybody. The radio discussions about the Chief run eerily parallel to some of the justifications for segregation in the 50's.

It happened at Stanford... but no one remembers now

This did in fact happen somewhat at Stanford when they retired their Indians logo. For quite a while afterward, there were defiant tailgates at the stadium, people continuing to wear their old Indians merchandise, and that sort of thing. The News-Gazette covered this aspect in their series on school that gave up Indian mascots, back around 1997 or so. However, with no official support from the University, it died down after a few years. Once the cohort of students completely flipped over (4 years plus change) it was largely a matter of "some old guys in the stands." The article concluded that such activity IS unavoidable, but it goes away, and it shouldn't be an impediment to retiring such mascots or making big changes. The article also tracked monetary contributions, and found that they did NOT drop off, nor did they markedly increase. They increased right in line with the trend that had been going on before the mascot change. Given that this article ran in the News-Gazette (no bastion of anti-Chief sentiment), I found it pretty telling. -- Itazurakko. 残念ながらこのスレも釣り禁止…

It's Giant Memorial Time?

"It will be important now to ensure the accurate recounting and safekeeping of the tradition as an integral part of the history of the University. We also have the responsibility to work together to capture and put to good use the goodwill created by the tradition and to maintain other great traditions like the Three-In-One for decades to come.” I wonder what Eppley has in mind when the Board "safekeeps" the "tradition"? How do you get rid of a "tradition" but "safekeep" the "tradition" at the same time?

How to Do Both?

There is only ONE way to get rid of it and keep it from being used in violation of the NCAA ruling. That is for the University to hold onto the tradematrk, cease all future use of it on campus, end the contracts that allow reproduction of it to sell "chief" trinkets, and legally pursue anyone outside the University who attempts to use the trademark. One of the ex-'chiefs" claims that the trademarks need to be given to them "To make sure it is protected, not misappropriated." But is not the trademark a misappropriated sysmbol in itself, by them? Why give the fox the keys to the turkey coop? ANY transfer of the trademark to any group outside the University, including the "Council of chiefs" would be an exercise in continuing the misappropriation of Native American images.

Eppley on video

be sure to check out for a video of Chairman of the BOT Lawrence Eppley. He adds some light into the conversation taking place on this thread. One thing he mentions is that he has had many meetings with the "clan of fake chiefs", that he doesn’t know how much money the licensing of “chief” merchandise produces (or any “Illni” merchandise for that matter), that they don’t intend to stop licensing “chief” trinkets, and that the mascot won’t be on the next BOT meeting agenda come March 13 at the Pine Lounge of the union (it may fit 40 people). Asking about the next BOT meeting actually ticked this fellow off. He really thinks this is just going to blow over.

Yow. That doesn't bode

Yow. That doesn't bode well. Sounds like he's saying "we got rid of the dance but we can keep the logo" almost. The fact that he specifically says "we can't have the logo on athletic uniforms" speaks volumes. The logo has already been gone from athletic uniforms for years. At least he did mention that they would need to revisit with the NCAA to see if having the Chief head logo together with the words "University of Illinois" is itself a violation. I hope it is, but Eppley sounds (to me) as if he's saying the only problem was the Chief related to althletics specifically, and since the logo was gone from the uniforms, getting rid of the actual dance completely solves the problem. I have a hard time believing that the University, as a copyright holder, would not put clauses into the licensing contracts stating that they can withdraw the licensing rights at will (perhaps with some compensation), but perhaps I don't understand how these things work? What if one of the licensees had some terrible scandal (child labor, massive embezzlement, bribing sports authorities to throw games to make more money, you name it) and the University found it embarrassing for that company to produce its merchandise? Would they be unable to revoke that company's license? We need a real mascot, NOW. -- Itazurakko. 残念ながらこのスレも釣り禁止…

Remember what drive$ the deci$ion$

The athletic department made a mint off licensing the logo. (As I understand it, it's the AA, not the UI, that owns the copyright now.) They will try to find any way they can to keep that $tream flowing. The Chief won't go away as long as there's money to be made. Naturally, this will be discussed in terms of "preserving the tradition" -- where the tradition being preserved is that of people buying Chief merchandise.

time to retire the real mascot ...

It is time to retire the real mascot at the U of I Drunken White Boys

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