URBANA - The University of Illinois Board of Trustees has restated its authority on decisions about Chief Illiniwek, in response to a Chief supporter's call for Chancellor Nancy Cantor to be fired.
The decision about whether Chief Illiniwek remains the symbol of the University of Illinois will be made by the UI Board of Trustees, said Kenneth Schmidt, acting chairman of the board, in a letter delivered to The News-Gazette Monday. Schmidt said the board needed to clarify its responsibility and authority on the issue.
Champaign attorney John Gadau said he is paying for four billboards with the slogan ?Restore the Chief, Remove Cantor.? He believes Cantor is anti-Chief and has plans to retire the Chief this spring. UI President James Stukel said there is no such plan.
After his plans became public last week, Gadau talked with two board members in an effort to come to a resolution on the matter.
?They didn't want the billboards up,? Gadau said. ?There was a lot of negotiations. We ended up not seeing eye to eye.?
Gadau said he and the board members discussed conditions under which he would not put up the billboards. He would not comment on what those conditions were, other than to say they were ?reasonable demands.?
When they did not come to a resolution, the trustees' office sent a copy of Schmidt's letter to him, Gadau said. He planned to deliver a response in the form of a letter to the editor of The News-Gazette today.
In his letter, Schmidt said the board has exclusive authority to determine the symbol and name of the UI's athletic teams. He said the Chief will remain the symbol, and the teams will remain named ?Fighting Illini? until the board votes to make a change.
The letter further stated no plan exists to retire the Chief, and no such plan would be implemented without official action by the board.
Schmidt also said ?recent events surrounding Chief Illiniwek (were) felt to be clearly unfounded and inappropriate by all members of the board.?