UI appeal would slow sanctions

URBANA – If the University of Illinois files an appeal regarding its use of Chief Illiniwek with the NCAA's executive committee before Feb. 1, any sanctions due to its use of the symbol will be waived until late April.

The restrictions are to go into effect Feb. 1, along with an NCAA policy forbidding use of "hostile or abusive" American Indian imagery. The policy forbids schools using such imagery from hosting postseason competitions or displaying the nicknames, logos or imagery at the events.

But a delay in imposing the restrictions won't change anything for the UI.

"I'm not sure any sanctions would have any effect," said NCAA spokesman Bob Williams, noting Chief Illiniwek doesn't perform at away games.

Williams also noted most of the spring championship sites have already been awarded and the events will be held after the April 27 executive committee meeting.

Kent Brown, UI's sports information director, said the only events the UI might bid on to host would be the early rounds of men's or women's tennis. Those matches will be played in May.

The NCAA granted waivers of its restrictions until April 27 to three schools that have already filed appeals with its executive committee: Bradley University, the University of North Dakota and Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

The UI appealed the policy regarding its use of the name "Fighting Illini" and its use of Chief Illiniwek to an NCAA review committee. The committee said in November that "Fighting Illini" is acceptable, but the use of the Chief is not. The UI can appeal that decision to the NCAA executive committee. UI spokesman Tom Hardy said the UI intends to do so and has been working on the appeal, but he doesn't know when it will be filed.

The NCAA executive committee decided to delay hearing the appeals of Bradley, North Dakota and Indiana University until its April 27 meeting because its members did not have enough time to review all the material submitted and make a decision, Williams said.

The NCAA released a list of 18 schools it deemed to have "hostile or abusive" nicknames or imagery when it announced its policy last August. Since then, three schools – the Florida State Seminoles, Central Michigan Chippewas and Utah Utes – have been allowed to keep their names and imagery because of support from local tribes.

Two other schools – Carthage College (Redmen) in Kenosha, Wis., and Midwestern State University (Indians) in Wichita Falls, Texas – were removed from the list when they decided to stop using the nicknames and imagery the NCAA found objectionable. Of the 13 schools remaining on the list, two have discussed changing their nicknames and/or imagery but have not yet done so, Williams said.

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