The University of Illinois since 1926 has had a mascot named "Chief Illiniwek." This racist, mocking symbol of "redmen" was paraded at half-time during football and basketball games. A white-male student would run around barefoot–let's go native and mock those we exterminated–adorn a buckskin costume like Halloween, wear facial warpaint and cavort around in a headdress with feathers that one would see on Main Street in a shop with a Totem Pole out in front.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association has reiterated its August 2005 ruling and rejected a University of Illinois appeal that the chief is not "hostile and abusive." Those University of Illinois presidents and board chairpersons such as Lawrence Eppley should be condemned in associating a major state university with such hatred and cultural arrogance.
There is no doubt Illinois will comply. Symptomatic of the corporatised university, such retrogressive institutions care only about money and power. Since Illinois could not schedule any N.C.A.A. tournaments, they will cave in out of fear that non-revenue sports such as tennis, that host such events, might lose their recruits and tarnish the reputations of their big-ticket sports. If I were the Big Ten commissioner, I would have recommended the expulsion of this disgraceful university–a great university with renown programmes but in this case disgraceful– from the conference and if I were North Central, I would have stripped it of its accreditation pending the retirement of the chief. None would happen; none will happen; in any event the Chief is gone and may it be forever remembered as a manifestation of hatred, perpetuated by fear of reduced funding by the Illinois state legislature and a lack of scruples concerning justice and human rights.
Shame on the U of I administrations that perpetuated this racism and may the glory of the N.C.A.A. shine and be praised for its greatness and courage. I honour Walter Harrison, N.C.A.A. Executive Committee Chairperson. It is ironic that a sports organization, the N.C.A.A., is more progressive and dedicated to social justice and critical thinking than many of the universities that it serves. Elitists tend to see athletics as uniformly antiintellectual, non-secular in its motif of prayer and group solidarity and yet fail to realise the N.C.A.A.s historic role in eliminating blatant racism in so many athletic programmes. May it continue on this historic mission of greatness.
P.S. Bradley University, known for its great basketball programme as it joined the Sweet 16 in the N.C.A.A. basketball tournament, has an inelegant nickname of "Braves." The N.C.A.A. ruled Bradley could retain that name since it had discarded its Native American mascot and Indian logos some ten years ago. While I would prefer Bradley would eliminate their monicker, they have shown a good faith effort to purge itself of such ostentatious bigotry. The North Dakota Fighting Sioux lost their appeal and that horrid name must be abandoned as well if they are to host any post-season tournament.
See link to St Louis Post-Dispatch