On Jan. 31, the UI filed an appeal of a National Collegiate Athletic Association policy that prohibits the Urbana-Champaign campus from hosting post-season NCAA championship competition because of the 80-year-old Chief Illiniwek tradition.
The appeal was submitted Tuesday to the Executive Committee of the Indianapolis-based NCAA, and it requests a stay in enforcement of the contested policy until the academic year ends in May.
The appeal states: “This appeal is about the institutional autonomy of NCAA member schools. It is about flawed rules and process. It is about the association of member schools exceeding its charter. It 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 sports by its student athletes.”
And the appeal notes with approval the NCAA’s concurrence with the university’s argument in support of, and the NCAA’s acceptance of, the names Illini and Fighting Illini for the school’s athletic teams. It states: “The NCAA’s reversal of its earlier position in regard to the names provided solace to hundreds of thousands of students, alumni and friends of the university who proudly call themselves Illini in a positive association with the largest public university in the state of Illinois.”
The new policy regarding uses of American Indian imagery by NCAA membership institutions was scheduled to go into effect Feb. 1, 2006, but the NCAA has indicated it will stay enforcement for colleges and universities with appeals pending.
Performances by Chief Illiniwek for the remainder of the men’s and women’s basketball season are not affected.