University of Illinois Drops Chief Illiniwek, Keeps ‘Fighting Illini’

Chief Illiniwek’s final appearance will be at a University of Illinois basketball halftime show next Wednesday.

In 2005 the NCAA deemed Illiniwek — the University of Illinois mascot portrayed by buckskin-clad students who dance at home football and basketball games and other athletic events — an offensive use of American Indian imagery and barred the university from hosting championship postseason events. American Indian groups complained for years that the mascot, in use since 1926, is demeaning. Proponents of Chief Illiniwek say it honors the contributions of American Indians.

The University of Illinois received a letter from the NCAA dated Thursday that said the school will no longer be banned from hosting postseason events if it ends use of the mascot and related American-Indian imagery.

On Friday, a Champaign County Circuit Court judge rejected two students’ request for a court order to ban the University of Illinois from “capitulating to the NCAA by announcing the retirement of Chief Illiniwek.”

The NCAA said it believes its sanctions are legal.

There has been no announcement about a new mascot, but the University of Illinois will keep the phrase ‘Fighting Illini.’

‘Hail to the Orange’ lyrics below …

Hail to the Orange
Hail to the Orange,
Hail to the Blue,
Hail Alma Mater,
Ever so true!
We love no other
So let our motto be
Victory, Illinois! Varsity!

Follow this story at The Daily Illini