Eppley discusses timing of Chief decision

After the University of Illinois announced on Friday it would eliminate Chief Illiniwek this coming Wednesday, The News-Gazette sat down with UI Board of Trustees Chair Lawrence Eppley to talk about the decision.

Eppley said the university had "circled" Friday as a date for the announcement and the decision to announce then was not prompted by the lawsuit brought by UI students to prevent the university from eliminating the Chief, nor was it due to pressure from Illinois Senate President Emil Jones.

Eppley confirmed the Chief's final performance will be at the men's basketball game on Wednesday, but university officials have not finalized the fate of the UI's trademark rights to the name Chief Illiniwek, the portrayal and the logo. Officials will continue to talk to former Chiefs who have requested the transfer of the logo to their newly formed tax-exempt organization, the Council of the Chiefs.

An admitted fan of Chief Illiniwek, Eppley said he will continue to cheer and expects to enjoy half-time shows as much as he enjoys them now.

As for unhappy Chief supporters possibility withholding donations to the university, Eppley said if people are really committed to the mission of the university, then they should put that ahead of their feelings for the Chief.

Here are excerpts from the conversation.

The News-Gazette: Tell us at what moment you decided to make this statement, when did you know it was going to happen?

Eppley: Last spring (2006). Last spring we knew we won the names. It was important for a lot of people because a lot of people were confused over if we don't have the Chief, what do we call ourselves? We've always tried to be clear, as far as we're concerned, Illini and Fighting Illini are different from the Chief and we got the NCAA to agree. The second appeal we lost. We went after it on institutional autonomy and they said no. So pretty much at that point we could either say right then OK, we need to stop so we're not violating or we could take advantage of the time that we sort of had. We weren't quick enough to not lose tennis (the UI men's tennis team could not host tournament rounds last spring because of the sanctions) and then we thought we might have the opportunity to take advantage of the fall and winter to see if we could work something out ahead of the next batch of hosting opportunities.

To answer your question, I think we always knew that somewhere around this time of year. As to why this particular date, we thought if we were going to announce anything we ought to announce before the last performance, not after. ... There were some discussions on why we landed on the men's game. ... I can't say there's a lot of science to that (decision); it's just sort of the way it bubbled through.

N-G: Tell us about the consensus process. It sounds like what has happened since the spring is you have been talking with individual board members?

Eppley: Talking with a lot of people, board members certainly, but there wasn't a group we didn't interact with despite complaints to the contrary. We knew what most of the hard positions were, we knew on the extreme ends what the positions were and they were never moving. We spent a lot of time with people who had slightly more moderate positions to see if we could work things out.

It's also fair to say once the NCAA announced their policy, that became a leading force – maybe not the lead force because the board did say we would do something about it, but it did become a leading force.

I've been using the analogy of a hurdle. We had our consensus process – we said we would do something about it. And with the NCAA policy, they set the hurdle. It'd be silly to go under the hurdle because we wouldn't have solved the NCAA problem. Through the consensus we knew we had to at least clear that hurdle. ... Essentially today is for the most part clearing the NCAA hurdle.

We hope to, frankly, continue the consensus process. ... It's been a good tradition cherished by a lot of people for a long time and we've got a lot of built-up good will. And if there's a way for us to take advantage of that in a way that fits within the spirit of the consensus process and also keeps us in compliance with the NCAA, that would be great.

N-G: We heard the former Chiefs still want to talk to university officials about the logomark. Do you plan on talking with them about this issue?

Eppley: We hope to continue to talk to them about it. There's a lot of opportunities and that's certainly one of them. They've been, in my view, a great group. For them to approach us the way they did and offer to help, we're extremely grateful and if we can make something that benefits all of us, I think it's worth pursuing.

N-G:Why did you make the announcement this way, the decision announced in a press release, but no event or press conference?

Eppley: A dog-and-pony show? This is more tame. ... Personally I like the Chief enough that I didn't want to have a circus dealing with the Chief.

N-G: Were you affected at all by the court case today, timing-wise?

Eppley: We didn't know about that (case) until yesterday. We sort of circled this date. We had ability to pick the date. ... The NCAA executive committee meeting wasn't until yesterday (Thursday). In order to get the assurance from NCAA, which I think was crucial, it didn't look like we could do it before the 15th. I didn't want to do all this, as you can imagine, without the assurance of commitment from the NCAA to take us off their list.

N-G: What about reaction from alumni? Some have threatened not to donate to the university if the Chief is eliminated. What are your plans for dealing with that?

Eppley: You see a lot of donation cards that come back and say "No Chief, no money." I hope people understand that, certainly if they're a product of the university, the university is much broader than the Chief. And if you're really committed to the mission of a public university, to education and everything we do, that you'll put that ahead of your feelings for the Chief. I've felt that way for a long time. Whether you hate the Chief or love the Chief, if your feeling for the Chief is stronger than your feeling for the university, well, then, you'll be disappointed in what we do, no matter what we do. But if you love the university more than your opinion of the Chief, then you should be accepting of this and that's what we're hoping for.

I'm a Chief fan but I like the university more than that.

N-G: What's going to happen to the regalia?

Eppley: That's part of what we still need to work on. You wonder whether the primary motivation of their (NCAA) resolution was, to have us not use it in connection with performance and whether they're a little more open to discussion. So that's one piece of it. The other piece is we do own it so I suspect somewhere in between there we'll have something. I think the best thing for it is to be preserved and curated somehow. I suspect we can come to some resolution. It's beautiful regalia.

N-G: How do you respond to the report that (Senate President) Emil Jones was not going to confirm you if you did not act today? (Gov. Blagojevich reappointed Eppley to a six-year term on the board of trustees, but the Senate confirms board appointments.)

Eppley: He never told me that. I remember going in to talk to him, four years ago I think, and he made it very clear what he thought about the Chief. And I do have the occasion to say hi to him every once in a while and probably more than half the times he'd remind me what he thought about the Chief. But other people in the General Assembly think differently. ... The good thing about our General Assembly is there's lots of opinions and nobody is afraid to express them, so I hear a lot of opinions on the Chief.

N-G: What do you see out there when the "Three-in-one" is playing? Do you see some other possibility?

Eppley: This is a great marching band – they do shows all the time – so I'm confident that we're going to enjoy halftimes in the future just as much as we've enjoyed them now.

You can't diminish the notion that this generation can also create traditions. They're perfectly capable of creating traditions, so I'm not worried about what our halftime shows will look like in the future. I think they will be great. I'll stand and cheer.

N-G: So there won't be any board action or resolution for the board of trustees to consider?

Eppley: The action was the decision two years to do something about it. I'm not doing it by myself. ... This is how I see it, I think if we needed authority to do something it would be to say, violate the policy. ... This is the university saying it's time now, we needed to comply, it's OK to comply. ... We wouldn't be doing today unless we had the support of the university community to do this.

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mlhllnd wrote on February 16, 2007 at 8:02 pm

What a mistake the University of Illinois is making. As an alumni I am devestated. Chief Illiniwek is a tradition which cannot be eliminated. What a shame future generations of Illinois Alumni will never get to experience one of the greatest college traditions.

honor9chief wrote on February 16, 2007 at 9:02 pm

this is a shameful day for native Americans. This has been nothing but a personal vendetta against an institution who has done nothing but honor the spitit of the native Americans. To uphold the criteria of even being considered of Chief is above all common levels of decency and respect for a given ethniticity. To use the old excuse of portraying hostile misenterpretation of native American for our students sake is garbage. If this is true then I want all native Americans to look at themselves in the mirror and cut your braided ponytail off, hide your torquoise and take your buckskins down from the wall because you don't want to offend and portray a hostile image to the children. Next, close all native American burial grounds in which it is ok to display your ancestors bones for profit. If you really have an agenda then take down all the caricatures of these hideous totem poles spread throughout areas of native American history. And finally why not go after the "redskins" in Washington? I was there the day of Chief Fools Crow and was over by swelling emotion for the native Americans and its brotherhood with the U of I. It is all over now for a handful of activists with a vendetta but you have disgraced your ancestors and have disgraced hollow ground.

jank wrote on February 16, 2007 at 9:02 pm

For those who attended the STOP Forum held at Foellinger Auditorium.... the work goes on.

The elimination of the U of I racist mascot is only the beginning. Much remains to be done in our community to address racism, oppression and privilege.

Students Transforming Oppression & Privilege

COALITION DEMANDS

FEBRUARY 1, 2007

We demand that the UIUC Administration facilitate the unconditional removal of "Chief Illiniwek" and eliminate the use of American Indian imagery.

* Eliminate the term "Fighting Illini"

* Remove all "Chief" iconography from the University of Illinois including items for sale at the Illini Union Bookstore

The work goes on!

RDN wrote on February 16, 2007 at 9:02 pm

Hooray!!! Now the University of Illinois can enter the 21st century with pride and dignity, having finally abolished the use of this racist mascot. All over this country--everywhere except in this community--people have looked at the U of I with ridicule and disgust for continuing such a demeaning, bigoted portrayal of Native Americans. But now, that is ended. Now the U of I is truly a great university for standing up against this injustice. Thank you!!!

IndyIlliniFan wrote on February 16, 2007 at 10:02 pm

Here's a quote from the judge who ruled in the hearing today for the law suit brought forth by the current Chief.

"The University of Illinois has chosen a course of action," Jones said. "They could have tackled the NCAA head on and sued them, taken risks. Instead, they chose, apparently, to try and succeed through the appeal process. Apparently, they have chosen to comply with the NCAA."

He went on to say.

Jones was critical of the NCAA, saying that its enforcement, so far, of its own policy appeared to be hypocritical.

"It's an easy sell that enforcement of the policy is arbitrary and capricious," the judge said.

"They don't wish to associate with members who use Native American imagery, unless, of course, they do," Jones said.

No doubt about it. Our University leadership is weak. Like the judge said, they could have tackled this head on, but they didn't.

North Dakota tackled it head on and they received a court injunction allowing them to host post season NCAA events until this is resolved in court.

Here's the icing on the cake. Last Fall, the Illini women's soccer team was denied the right to host post season games. Guess where the Illini women ended up playing? Florida State!!!!

Plainswarrior wrote on February 17, 2007 at 1:02 am

Don't worry, the walls around the University of North Dakota are coming down, too.

As a Native American, this is a PROUD day to be Indian!

One less white person imitating what they think we Natives do. One less stereotype that will be swept into the history books.

Maybe someday Native Americans will not be look upon as figures in history books, like your soon to be gone chief portrays us, but rather as educators, doctors, lawyers, business owners, and in all other professional fields where Native people can be found.

Now, at least at the University of Illini, Native people can finally say "I am not your mascot!" Hopefully that happens sooner than later here in North Dakota.

A little FYI for your Fighting Sioux fans, the Sioux (Lakota, Dakota, Nakota) Nation were here before, during, and long after you told to quit calling yourself the Fighting Sioux, and no, nothing about my culture is taught at their intermissions, either.

irish56 wrote on February 17, 2007 at 3:02 am

I understand many people will be disappointed by this decision. It is difficult to let go of an established tradition. However, the world has changed and so must this great university. The Chief created a climate of discord for many members of our community. It did not bring this community together rather it divided the community. It saddens me that people would think of withholding donations to the university because of this decision. Such an action is petty, shallow and spiteful. It reminds me of a five year old holding their breath because they did not get there way. Those who love, respect and are loyal to this institution will not allow this decision to compromise their support of UIUC.

karlyn1219 wrote on February 17, 2007 at 6:02 am

To all of you who are pleased with this, I am ashamed of you all. To think that only the simple minded people in the community feel that the chief is not racist you are wrong. Everywhere I have gone over the last 5 years proudly wearing a chief shirt or sweatshirt, etc. I have stopped people and asked if they found this offensive. The resounding answer was no. People across the country know what all this is about, and rational people know the respect that goes with the symbol.

To all the students that are members of STOP. Spend mommy & daddy's money a little better. If you think Champaign Urbana is filled with racism and hotility, then you need to open your eyes. As someone who has grown up in Champaign, attended the U of I, and now lives on the East Coast, you have not seen anything yet. You kids have such a concieted sense of entitlement that you have the right to not be offended. You could not be further from the truth. In the REAL WORLD, there are always going to be things that offend you. The best advice I can give you to survive in the real world once you are done wasting your parent's tutition money is to decide what truly is offensive. If something threatens you physically or emotionally, then maybe it is i offnesive. If you got roped into a protest because your girlfriend or roommate said join me then you are a simple monded drone. Enjoy your career at Burger King, because that is where you are all destined to end up.

karlyn1219 wrote on February 17, 2007 at 6:02 am

Plainswarrior... how about taking some pride, and show us how an Indian acts? All we see is discord, poverty and gambling insitituitons. At least the Chief was a since of pride for a lot of people, and we did not see him as an indian. he was bigger than that

Skoeberlein wrote on February 17, 2007 at 6:02 am

It is a SAD day for the U of I..What a shame a few idiots rule. It was a honor to watch the chief perform, I alway got chills. I grew up in CU, a lot of locals from Urbana were the Chiefs, it was as HONOR to be chosen. I WILL NEVER ATTEND ANOTHER BASKETBALL OR FOOTBALL GAME AGAIN, NOR WILL I DONATE ANOTHER DOLLAR.

DemiTasse wrote on February 17, 2007 at 8:02 am

I am having a difficult time understanding this pseudo-attachment to the "Chief". Most of you are only concerned with selfish reasons for keeping this nonsense alive. The Chief is going away, GET OVER IT and move on with your lives. You care nothing about others and you are only concerned with power and ownership. This was the philosophy of the European settlers who killed the Native Americans and robbed them of their land, women,and resources. They were pressed into remote areas and placed on resevations.These same settlers advocated slavery and domination of women. We love to talk about tradition, and disregard the real history. The chief is an insult. A Native-American tribal leader has been reduced to a Mascot prancing around at half time shows. One writer said it was honor to be chosen as a chief for one of these shows, how so? How can you honor something that is dishonorable. What if the University's new mascot was called the European Manipulator and his half time performance show depicted him killing people and raping women, how long do you think that would last. The story is different when something is offensive to you. You would want something to be done about it, Would'nt You?

ChicagoLooper wrote on February 17, 2007 at 9:02 am

Thinking about what the replacement would be for "The Chief," who, as an alumnus of the university, I remember as always being held in the highest regards, I am not sure he can be replaced. I remember my first basketball game and the reverence other students had for "The Chief." New students were coached to respect and honor "The Chief." In many ways, he embodies school spirit. Perhaps the best way to transition into this new era is to continue the music -- just as before -- but without "The Chief" and envision his spirit -- and that of the school -- before us, but only in our minds. A fitting tribute to the symbol which will only be there in memory and spirit. This would serve not only as a memorial to spirits of the past, but amaze visitors in the sense that Illini Spirit continues and strengthens even beyond the loss of a enormous symbol of the school.

ILINI69 wrote on February 17, 2007 at 9:02 am

Plainswarrior... If you are so offended by indian acts and stereotypes being used as symbols of institutions, why did you choose your Username...Plainswarrior?? You show your own hypocrisy and ignorance better than any symbol can. How can you honor yourself by being called Plainswarrior? I get images of red men being warriors. That offends me.

illinijd76 wrote on February 17, 2007 at 9:02 am

As for the University, great universities teach how to think not what to think. Since we are now told what to think about Chief Illiniwek, we are no longer a great university. For our moral guardians, the goal of diversity is the expansion of opinions, not the contraction of ideas. If the purpose of a symbol/mascot is to bring honor, even if misguided, then it cannot be racist be definition, since racism is based upon hatred. I suggest that the anti-Chiefs look in the mirror, it is you who interjected racism into the debate&it is you who spew hatred. You got what you wanted, the Chief is gone. By the way, now there is no motivation to continue discussion about Native-American issues on campus. Good plan? It feels for many like the loss of a family member, having not had the opportunity to say goodbye (unless you are fortunate enough to have a basketball ticket). Chief Illiniwek was a long and proud traditional and symbol for the University, and will be missed by the overwhelming majority. As for me, NO CHIEF&NO MONEY!

UIUCAlumnus1996 wrote on February 17, 2007 at 10:02 am

An Open Letter Penned to University of Illinois Board of Trustees:

February 17, 2007

Chairman Lawrence C. Eppley

Board of Trustees Office

352 Henry Administration Building, MC-350

506 South Wright Street

Urbana, IL 61801

(217) 333-1920

Dear Chairman Eppley:

As an alumnus of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (1996) and an avid fan and supporter of Fighting Illini athletics, I am deeply disturbed by 02/16/07's decision to cut ties with Chief Illiniwek's performances during athletic events. What disturbs me is not the decision to "assassinate" Chief Illiniwek to appease the NCAA Executive Committee (the NCAA has continued to misinterpret the true meaning of the Chief over the years and the NCAAs hypocrisy only angers me more in that certain Native American "mascots" are endorsed by the NCAA, most notably the monetarily lucrative "Seminole Warrior" of Florida State University, but I digress), but the principle reason your board has removed Chief Illiniwek.

According to your letter dated 02/16/07, Assuming the announced changes are affected and assuming such use does not reoccur, the university will be in full compliance with (NCAA) policy, the letter stated. Accordingly, the policy will not preclude the university from hosting or participating in NCAA championship events, should the university be otherwise eligible.

Thus, UIUC has not removed Chief Illiniwek due to the usual argument that the removal is necessary to maintain the integrity of Native Americans as a respected culture, but for the assurance that UIUC will now become a host of various NCAA championship events; the Board of Trustees has chosen the almighty American dollar (revenue the university will gain as a result of hosting NCAA championship events), NOT Native Americans cultural integrity. This is blatantly obvious.

Moreover, since it seems that the filling of UIUCs coffers is the order of the month, this alumnus will effectively terminate his membership to the UIUC Alumni Association, thereby discontinuing contribution of funds to UIUC, will not purchase any NCAA approved UIUC Fighting Illini merchandise, will discourage talented high school athletes against applying to UIUC's athletics programs due to UIUC's lack of integrity by folding under the pressure of the NCAA Executive Committees hand of judgement (after all, what message does your decision to terminate Chief Illiniwek for NCAAs tournament money machine send to a young person regarding maintaining an established and revered tradition?), and will no longer view Fighting Illini athletic events either live or televised until UIUC rescinds it removal of Chief Illiniwek and restores Chief Illiniwek to his former status. These actions gore my very soul for I love UIUC athletics, but my actions are necessary to maintain the legacy of Chief Illiniwek.

I am but one voice of millions of supporters of Chief Illiniwek worldwide. I have little doubt that the Board of Trustees will now face the brunt of their folly and greed in that many an alumnus will come out of the woodwork in outrage. I certainly hope UIUC is ready for the backlash of 02/16/07's decision. Furthermore, I hope the Board of Trustees will soon come to its senses and restore Chief Illiniwek to his previous status and stand up to the tyrannical NCAA Executive Committee.

Thank you for your time in reading this letter and may your decision to remove Chief Illiniwek be rescinded with stealth.

Sincerely,

Michael A. Ragucci

Teacher of High School English and Coach of Athletics in the New York City Department of Education

**I ENCOURAGE ALL PEOPLE WHO AGREE WITH THE CONTENT IN THIS LETTER TO LET UIUC OFFICALS KNOW THAT THE JUDGEMENT SURROUNDING THE CHIEF IS UNACCEPTABLE AND MUST BE RECONSIDERED IMMEDIATELY. I GRANT FULL PERMISSION TO ALL PERSONS ENRAGED BY THE JUDGEMENT TO FORWARD CONTENT HEREIN TO ANY PUBLIC OFFICIALS/CONCERNED PARTIES. IN ADDITION, WRITE YOUR OWN LETTERS OF OUTRAGE TO BE SENT TO THE NCAA EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE AND THE UIUC BOARD OF TRUSTEES. THIS DECISION HAS OPENED A DOOR OF ORWELLIAN PROPORTIONS; IT MUST BE CLOSED BEFORE OUR FIRST AMMENDMENT RIGHTS REGARDING THE USE OF ALL UNIVERSITY MASCOTS/TRADITIONS ARE TAKEN AWAY PURELY IN FAVOR OF CORPORATE LOGOS/REPRESENTATION. M.A.R.

JUSTaDAD wrote on February 17, 2007 at 10:02 am

I am a fan of the Chief and the Fighting Illini, but, we all knew this day would arrive. This issue will tie up a courtroom somewhere and I support that. Now let us look at a real problem. I am the parent of a U of I graduate and I have remained silent far too long. The trustees (trust, huh!) and the chancellor are some of the weakest people in Champaign-Urbana, in my humble opinion. Along with the governmental bodies of Champaign, Urbana, Champaign County, the state of Illinois and the United States they have forsaken many students lives by allowing drug and achohol abuse to run rampant on and off campus. Drug and alcohol abuse breeds sexual misconduct (pun intended) and STDs. These things are not widely reported, unless an athlete is involved in some kind of mess and then look out, cause the world will stop spinning. Yes, the students are supposed to be all grown up and responsible at the ripe age of 18 and if we can allow them to be blown up in war, let'em have drugs and alcohol! To be continued, if I may?

JUSTaDAD wrote on February 17, 2007 at 10:02 am

Why do we allow this to continue. I really feel like a failed parent for sending my child to school at the U of I. My experience is that all anyone cares about is money from the top to the bottom. Being a party school brings students, allowing underage drinking brings in tax money and students, allowing the drug use brings in students and helps them not care anymore about what they are wasting. All the sex, you know what that brings, high paying medical jobs and students. I am thankful that my child and I are very open with each other and I was at least able to give advice and at least hope they took it. The stories that I have been told about life on campus make my stomach churn and the hair on the back of my neck stand straight up! We should all be ashamed of what goes on down there and elsewhere, because we allow it to happen. Some of it, because of tradition, I hear. Please, let's stop ruining lives for the sake of tradition and money. I think we have more to worry about, besides the Chief, but I would donate to his legal defense fund and not one other thing in Champaign County. These are just my opinions and my view of school life there and the Parkland students are in the same boat. I know some of them, too. Please, I am begging the people in power to clean this mess up! Please!

jmayer wrote on February 17, 2007 at 11:02 am

Once again political correctness and a population minority rules. And once again the current university officials are behaving like the bureaucratic lapdogs they are.

The school could have fought the good fight. It could have stood up and said 'enough of this absurd whining and wailing' by supposedly injured select interest groups. But no, the university lies on the ground, bares its neck and whimpers '"we're sorry". This was a truly pathetic performance by a group of self-interested politicians who call themselves higher education administrators.

FormerChiefIlliniwek wrote on February 17, 2007 at 12:02 pm

Yesterday was a sad day for the Council of Chiefs. To a person, we are quite proud of our association with the University and the Illiniwek tradition for these past 81 years. All should know that we consistently endeavored to portray Chief Illiniwek with Honor, Dignity and Respect. Our hope is to keep the Spirit of the tradition alive and, to that end, will work with the University to help shape a new tradition. Thank you to all who have cherished and supported this tradition, especially the many Native Americans whom we have counted as friends.While the Chief's performance will be no more, our hope is the Chief's memory will live on.

JUSTaDAD wrote on February 17, 2007 at 12:02 pm

By the way has anyone noticed that when it comes to the NCAA, that they too are all about the mighty dollar. Nothing but a bunch of people who claim to be professionals. Professional at what? They claim to be a group of folks that work for the membership. Not hardly, more like dictators and do not kid yourself, it is all about money! Go to www.ncaa.org and read thei overview and scroll down and click on "Our Mission". See for yourself, 350 paid professionals, for what? To better organize college athletics. With all the resources at the schools today you would think that the ADs could e-mail each other and maybe have a quartly meeting or something, you know. We do have other means to communicate in the 21st century. When the NCAA was formed in 1906 things were different. Today, I say they are a thing of the past and they need to go. The conferences are already in place and all they need is to maybe hire one rep for each one and cut the NCAA out of all the money. The same is true for the grade and high school associations, time to cut the overhead. I realize I am ranting and I apologize. As the saying goes, "Where is the sanity in all of this?"

dntown wrote on February 17, 2007 at 3:02 pm

Saddest day ever to be an Illini. I think many of us Chief supporters deep down thought that this day would eventually come, but to have it announced on a Friday, in the middle of a crappy basketball season, that it's all over next Wednesday, particularly when it appears Mr. Eppley and crew made the decision last spring, is a total crock.

If it had to come to this, why not have a farewell tour next football season? What's the hurry? We've talked about this for, what, almost 20 years? I hope to God this was not to get a lousy NIT game--it's bad enough we even have to think about that. Just like any beloved family member that is terminally ill, you want to spend all the time you can with them before they go. Eppley never gave us a chance. Not only is having it all come down this way a spineless, cowardly move on his part, but it's pretty dumb too--think about the economic impact of a farewell tour for Chief next season. Boy, I really feel good about the this board as the stewards for my alma mater.

Growing up in Central Illinois, and as active undergrad and alum, this hurts me and some of us more than others. It is indeed like a member of the family has died. And it also feels like other members of the family (the board and its chair in particular) have turned on us by not being up front in the handling of the timing of the announcement. It's like thinking you know someone for years and not knowing them at all now.

Mr. Eppley and the rest of the board, I've lost my trust in you. For someone who says he loves the Chief so much but the University more, you could have handled this situation much better. You're not going to like the fallout. I've not only lost my trust in you and my alma mater, but I've also lost my checkbook. I won't be the only one...nice going. We deserve much better.

wfffdfb wrote on February 17, 2007 at 4:02 pm

Chief Illini,the Fighting Irish, the Florida Seminoles, and yes, even the Duke Blue Devils (yikes, satanic worship!) are so offensive. I don't know what I was thinking when, for 20 years, I stood in reverence for Chief Illiniwek at halftime as he danced. And while I am confident it brought chills to a vast majority of those of us in the stands, I now see that we were wrong...we heathens just weren't as enlightened as the more socially refined practitioners of political correctness amongst us. So I say, off with Chief Illini and let's replace him with a good old fashioned halftime book burning! The UI library stacks should carry us forward for another 81 years.

Don

telulah wrote on February 17, 2007 at 7:02 pm

Soo, whats next? I guess the Fightin Irish of Notre Dame fans better start saying their goodbyes to their beloved mascot. Afterall it is degrading to Irish Amercians! Growing up I was mesmorized by the Chief of the Illini and all that I thought he stood for. Now he is gone.

I am a fightin Irish and I am mad. Thankfully I am not so easily offended as others.

kohlfam92 wrote on February 18, 2007 at 1:02 am

There are several things to address here. First of all, it is perfectly okay to withhold money from the university on the basis of the Chief's termination if you considered the Chief to be an integral part of the fabric of the university. And that is exactly what the Chief was to me. I was proud to see the Chief. He made me actually think about Native American life before it was swiped from those who inhabited our land. It was a tribute that sent chills up my spine. He represented everything unique about my university. And without him, I feel we've been redefined and with the fabric woven to conform to all the other "schools" out there. The pride I felt has been zapped. Because the administration failed to support the vast majority of students and alumni that are in favor of the Chief and, instead, bow to the bullying of the NCAA, I choose not to support the university at all with my funds. I don't support an administration that I don't trust or respect.

That leads me to point #2 -- the U of I as it relates to the NCAA. Folks, there is a difference between "service" and "compliance." The NCAA told the U of I what the ramifications were if the Chief remained. They did not force our administration to eliminate him. And he shouldn't have been eliminated because the people that the administration "serves" are the students and alumni. The administration "complies" with the NCAA, but it "serves" the student body and alumni. Or at least that's how it is supposed to work. The administration was entirely dishonorable to the Illini nation by choosing a path that was not in the will of the vast majority.

Third, the removal of the Chief does nothing positive for Native America. For some, and definitely not all (see Florida's Seminole tribe), the termination of the Chief removes something that they saw as offensive. But it won't force progress. The U of I is being asked to be a scapegoat for an entire American heritage that stole land from Native Americans years ago and ended up shoving them onto reservations in the middle of nowhere. I wonder how vocal those non Native Americans in the anti-Chief faction would be if they were asked to return to the native lands where their ancestors migrated from while their house and land was returned to the Native Americans from whom it was stolen in the first place? Chief Illiniwek did nothing to mock Native American history. He pointed us to a heritage that existed in the land that we took.

And last of all, Larry Eppley cannot be considered a supporter or fan of the Chief. A devout "true" supporter doesn't turn his back on something dignified when the going gets tough. Larry Eppley caved in because he had no spine. A real man fights for honorable things. Larry Eppley displayed little more than cowardice. He's an absolute disgrace.

pamm wrote on February 18, 2007 at 11:02 am

I have lost all respect for the University of IL, the IL State politicians, and the board of trustees. It is a disgrace the way they have let the NCAA and a self proclaimed moral few decide the fate of the Chief.

I hope the anti-chief group and the NCAA will now turn their attention to causes that will really make make a difference, poverty, steroid use, graduation rates, racism, etc. As a graduate of the UofI, I have always felt such pride and allegiance to the university but not any more. I am totally disgusted.

17771aa wrote on February 18, 2007 at 1:02 pm

My husband and I (both multiple UI degree-holders) never stopped giving money to this university although we disagreed very strongly with the Illiniwek sports show, which was never anything but an embarrassment to a university with a worldwide reputation to uphold. People who now claim to be withholding money from the university because the so-called Chief is going are only displaying the same arrogance they did in the face of Indian disagreement with the use of such a mascot in the first place (just try finding any links to any actual American Indians' views on the Honor the Chief web site, for example), and the same ignorance of what a university is all about.