URBANA – Whether the University of Illinois wins or loses its appeal to the NCAA, the goal is to be off the list of schools the NCAA has deemed to be using "hostile or abusive" American Indian imagery by Feb. 1.
The UI filed its appeal Friday of the NCAA's policy restricting postseason competition for schools using the imagery. The policy prohibits those schools from hosting postseason competitions and from displaying such imagery at those events. It takes effect Feb. 1, 2006.
"We've been pretty straightforward in that we'd like to be off the list by the effective date," said UI Board of Trustees Chairman Larry Eppley.
How the UI will do that depends on the NCAA's ruling on the appeal.
"If it's anything other than an all-out win, presumably we'll have to figure out something if we want to be off the list by February," Eppley said. "We've talked about a lot of different permutations. Because it's all speculation, none of them are that meaningful yet."
Asked if retiring Chief Illiniwek before the Feb. 1 deadline was one of the options discussed, Eppley said, "That's getting ahead of ourselves." He said the board has concentrated on the appeal and its "consensus process" to resolve the Chief issue.
"I think, win, lose or draw, we have work to do on the consensus process," Eppley said. "If we win, we're back to where we were, working on it. If we lose or it's a draw, what we do next, we'll be able to use the consensus process to help figure out the next step."
Eppley wouldn't predict when the board might take a vote on the Chief issue.
"A lot will depend on what happens in Indianapolis," with the appeal, he said.
Dana Thomas, a spokeswoman for the NCAA, said there is no set time frame in which the organization will decide the appeal. She said the time for deciding appeals has varied, and it depends on whether NCAA officials believe enough information has been provided or if it needs to hold further discussions with the school.