BTN to avoid Chief logo in broadcasts, merchandise

BTN to avoid Chief logo in broadcasts, merchandise

What's your take? Submit a Letter to the Editor here

URBANA — The Big Ten Network has agreed to avoid images of the Chief Illiniwek logo during its Illini broadcasts following a complaint about its coverage of the Nov. 11 football game against Indiana.

The Big Ten Conference and BTN have also asked their merchandise partner, Fanatics, to no longer sell items featuring the Chief logo, which the UI stopped using in 2007 under pressure from the NCAA.

The decisions were outlined in a Nov. 14 email from Big Ten Deputy Commissioner Brad Traviolia to Stephen Kaufman, an emeritus professor at the UI and longtime Chief opponent.

Kaufman and Illinois student body president Raneem Shamseldin had written the day before to all 14 Big Ten university presidents and chancellors who make up the conference's Council of Presidents.

The letter complained that the BTN broadcast included "images of a flag depicting the former logo of the University of Illinois mascot Chief Illiniwek."

"As you are undoubtedly aware, the NCAA banned the use of such Native American imagery by its member institutions because such depictions promote a 'hostile and abusive' racial climate. The failure of the Big Ten Conference to comply with that NCAA policy undermines the NCAA's goal of promoting a nondiscriminatory environment in intercollegiate athletics that is welcoming to all. We believe displaying such imagery also violates the nondiscrimination policies of your respective institutions as well as the Big Ten Conference," Kaufman and Shamseldin wrote.

The email included an image taken from the Veterans Day broadcast of an American flag flying above a flag with a Chief logo, presumably from a tailgating area.

The letter also complained the Big Ten sold merchandise with the Chief logo on its website, with a link to an online BTN fan shop featuring Chief T-shirts and other items.

"We urge you to take immediate action to end these practices by the Big Ten Conference. Moreover, we request you inquire where the Chief Illiniwek flag broadcast by the BTN was being flown and instruct those responsible to cease that display," their letter said.

'BTN can do a better job'

In his response on behalf of the Big Ten presidents, Traviolia said the conference office confirmed that the UI itself did not fly any flags displaying the former logo. Under the UI's 2007 agreement with the NCAA, the school's athletic department is not allowed to have any official association with the Chief or the logo.

"That said, the conference has discussed this matter with BTN, and we have agreed that BTN can do a better job of choosing what images it captures to reflect the excitement and pageantry surrounding our sporting events," Traviolia wrote. "Moving forward, BTN will do its best to feature university-approved logos only and avoid televising flags and/or other images containing unapproved marks.

"Along those same lines, the conference and BTN will request that our online merchandise retailer discontinue offering Illinois merchandise containing these same unapproved marks," Traviolia wrote.

In his reply, Kaufman said he appreciated Traviolia's response, but added, "I trust the Conference and BTN will not only 'request' your online merchandise retailer discontinue offering Illinois merchandise containing unapproved marks, but that you will insist that is done without delay."

The Chief shirts and other items appear to have been removed from the website.

Big Ten officials declined to comment further when contacted by The News-Gazette.

Kaufman: Your turn, UI

UI officials said they were contacted by the Big Ten about the issue and provided background information. Athletic spokesman Kent Brown said the conference "addressed it appropriately."

UI Assistant Athletic Director Marty Kaufmann said BTN officials planned to "do their best to use camera shots with the current Block I logo where possible, with an understanding that you can't control every single shot that a fan or someone may display."

Stephen Kaufman, meanwhile, said he hopes the Big Ten's decision will persuade the UI to cut back on sales of Chief merchandise overall.

"They've fulfilled their part of the bargain. The question is, why hasn't the University of Illinois?" he said this week.

While the UI stopped mass production of Chief merchandise in 2007 — and no longer sells any on its own websites — a limited amount is allowed to be sold online through the Collegiate Licensing Co.'s College Vault program, which licenses vintage collegiate logos. The sales enable the UI to retain ownership of the Chief trademark.

The UI doesn't control who sells the merchandise online but licenses the manufacturers. Items do crop up in retail stores, and the UI says it tries to work with merchandisers to remove them from shelves.

Licensing royalties issue

Stephen Kaufman said the "use it or lose it" argument is valid, but "the law does not prescribe the number of items or how many items need to be sold" to retain the trademark, he argued.

Campus spokeswoman Robin Kaler said there's no minimum sales requirement to keep a trademark, but UI lawyers advise that "we have to be making an earnest effort to use it." If not, a competitor could say the university is doing it only to keep others from using it, she said.

Chief merchandise accounts for less than $10,000 of the UI's $1.2 million in licensing royalties for all Illini merchandise, said Marty Kaufmann, who oversees licensing and corporate sponsorships.

"Just because there are images on a site doesn't mean that people are buying it that much," he said.

Stephen Kaufman argued that the UI has failed to adequately monitor distribution of merchandise with the Chief logo.

"I would hope that whatever the impasse has been, someone will come to the conclusion that it's not in the interests of the university to continue this hypocrisy," he said this week.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
Bystander wrote on November 22, 2017 at 7:11 am
Profile Picture

Kauffman continues to be a pain in the neck. Might as well let him decide the new mascot. He gets his way every time. 

IlliniwekMerica wrote on November 22, 2017 at 8:11 am

I'm just glad Prof. Kaufman's eyes didn't melt out of his head after seeing the flag before he had a chance to shoot an email to the big ten network. 

Guy needs to get some hobbies. 

ForReal wrote on November 22, 2017 at 9:11 am

This Professor Kaufman is a joke. He epitomizes PC culture. The fact that the UI, the Big Ten, and BTN continue to listen to this guy is beyond me. Aren't there some other fights that Super Social Justice Warrior Kaufman can go fight? Don't want to tackle the Fighting Irish? The Cleveland Indians? Shoot, I find the Purdue Boilermakers offensive. No white guy has a giant head like Purdue Pete. 

jjohnson wrote on November 22, 2017 at 10:11 am

New definition: self-righteousness = Stephen Kaufman

UIUCHoopFan wrote on November 22, 2017 at 10:11 am

Kaufman watches sports?  Who knew!

I was thrilled to see Illinois Hall of Fame inductee Craig Virgin sporting a Chief motif sweatshirt on the football field during introductions of the inaugeral class!  He's a proud and accomplished Fighting Illini!

So now BTN must exercise censorship when televising games?  I guess that's another reason not to watch the channel.  Here are some more.

Stop showing male cheerleaders with their hands up a female cheerleaders skirt when hoisting them above their heads.  That offends me.  Actually, stop the lifts altogether so inappropriate touching lawsuits can't be filed at a later date.

Stop showing the dance team.  Their dance moves are offensive and embarassing.

Stop showing players and coaches who regularly shout, or at least mouth, profanity when calls don't go their way.  F-Bombs offend me.

Stop allowing players with police records to represent the University of Illinois.  That offends me.

Stop playing "Apache" by The Sugarhill Gang at football games.  No more "Tonto, JUMP ON IT!"  Obviously Kaufman doesn't attend games or he would have been all over this as well.

Just stop the lucrative TV deals  You've kowtowed to all other mutterings of offensiveness.  People in their living rooms shouldn't be offended if it's not on the television. Now it's time to kowtow to me, John Q Public, because my voice is equal to all others and my concerns and hurt feelings deserve recognition as much as those of other people.  







JustAnOpinion wrote on November 22, 2017 at 10:11 am

hehe . Good one.

I find it amazing one person has so much control over what happens at the University, and now the Big Ten. Who exactly p*****d him off so much that he has such a vendetta against the school.


GeneralLeePeeved wrote on November 22, 2017 at 10:11 am

Only in the academic world are retirees treated as royalty......WHY?

Illiniwek222 wrote on November 22, 2017 at 11:11 am

Kaufman's next complaint will be against the N-G for including the picture of the Illiniwek flag with the article. Somebody please change his diaper.

GLG wrote on November 22, 2017 at 11:11 am

The media needs to ignore Kaufman!!  Ignore him and he might go away!!

GLG wrote on November 22, 2017 at 1:11 pm

The guttless Kaufman demands the Big 10 tell people to stop flying the flags!!

Heres some headline news Kaufman, Its still a free country and people can fly whatever they want to!!

Maybe Kaufman can put on his big boy pants on and go to where these flags are being flown and he can demand the people flying them take them down. In say six months after he gets out of the hospital he can come on here and tell us how that went?  He is a typical liberal ! He doesn't like something and everyone else should agree with him!

illinifaningeorgia wrote on November 22, 2017 at 1:11 pm

And yet the Florida State Seminoles continue to proudly display their Native American mascot with zero repercussions. The NCAA is so full of crap.


GlenM wrote on November 22, 2017 at 1:11 pm

Thanks for calling my attention to the Chief Illiniwek logo flag, Prof. Kaufman.  I didn't know it existed.  Just ordered one for $14.95 on Amazon!

wykhb wrote on November 27, 2017 at 5:11 pm

And thank you, I ordered one too from Amazon, who knew?  :-D

BruckJr wrote on November 22, 2017 at 2:11 pm

It must be depressing to go through life with so much hate.  These folks need to take up yoga or something.

OrlandoIllini wrote on November 22, 2017 at 2:11 pm

Maybe Kaufman is Moonpie's twin.

Rocky7 wrote on November 22, 2017 at 3:11 pm

Herr Dr. Professor Kaufman needs to learn that once "Emeritus stay Emeritus." As an Emeritus Professor since 1993, I learned long before that one should leave the scene in the hands of the younger generation of faculty and administrators and stay out of disputes like this as much as possible,  In particular, one should try to avoid situtations where one doesn't live with the consequences. Grow up, Dr. Kaufman.

Mr Dreamy wrote on November 22, 2017 at 3:11 pm

You losers really whine when the old mascot comes up.

And why do I call you losers? Because you lost. The chief is no more. 

But, for you mouthy tough guys, put on your chief clothes and take a stroll though a reservation. Or tough it up and take a stroll down 63rd and Cottage Grove.

You whiners are, as they say, all talk and no action. All hat and no cattle. All bluster and no muster.

Illiniwek222 wrote on November 22, 2017 at 4:11 pm

Hey Dreamless...Why don't you hit a few bars around the United Center after a Blackhawks game and tell the patrons the Indian is offensive. See who the loser is.

CommonSenseless wrote on November 22, 2017 at 4:11 pm

What are you insinuating about the fine people of Woodlawn?

Mike wrote on November 22, 2017 at 8:11 pm

"Losers." Cute. Ad hominem.

The "whiners" are Stephen Kaufman and Jay Rosenstein. The Chief has been retired. Why on Earth are they still throwing fits any time someone wears a Chief shirt or displays a Chief flag? Seriously? 

Kaufman wants to get rid of the 3-and-1 because people say "Chief" during the music. Really? He and the 2% of people that are against the Chief "won" and the Chief was retired. Get over it already. 

Rosenstein wants to get rid of the football program altogether because he's so offended. 

I'm convinced Kaufman will be the end to the 3-in-1 in the next 5 years. Mark my word. 

Kaufman cheered on WHITE students accosting and attacking Native Americans during the homecoming parade. Let that settle in for a second. WHITE people attacking Native American people because the WHITE people think the Chief is "racist." What world are we living in? 

Neither Kaufman nor Rosenstein give one hoot about actual Native Americans. They are just miserable people and want everyone around them to be miserable. Did they travel to the Dakotas to protest the pipeline? Have they contacted the NCAA about the mascot at Florida State? Why aren't they fighting the Cleveland Indians mascot? Because their sole mission is to make those people that enjoyed the history and tradition of the Chief as miserable as they are. 

We white folks stole this country from the Native Americans. How about rather than complain and moan about a flag or t-shirt, we start giving them their land back. Kaufman and Rosenstein, and you, can go first. You want action instead of talk? 

Settle down with the "tough guy," rhetoric, pal. wrote on November 22, 2017 at 8:11 pm

Considering the fact that very few folks will be at Memorial Stadium on Saturday with alot of Purple and White in attendance considering  #wewillwin  aint........................not many chances to few folks wearing the Chief logo...look for the SWJ to try and ban the Chief Logo from the stadiu,m


Speaking of which.......... where is our favorite SJW........... normally he runs his yap over stuff like this.. Maybe he is in Tuscola protesting their symbol.................

bruceobrien wrote on November 23, 2017 at 11:11 am

The professor and student body prez have it all wrong AGAIN- OKAY, ALL YOU ILLINOIS PEOPLE OUT THERE- LET'S GET THIS STRAIGHT RIGHT NOW ONCE AND FOR ALL- CHIEF ILLINIWEK was NEVER a "MASCOT" as is worded in the article. The Chief is, was and always will be a symbol of honor, integrity and valor to which all UIUC faculty, staff, students and alumni are to live every day of their life. The late Roger Ebert (BA 1964) himself wrote an article in April 2009 articulating how his father (an electrician working for the UIUC) emphasized this and to "never call (the Chief) a mascot....Chief Illiniwek stands for something". .


Innocent_Primate wrote on November 23, 2017 at 2:11 pm

As background, I’m nearing 70 and have two (2) degrees from the University, an undergraduate degree and a professional degree. The NCAA is unlikely to change its position. And it has the ability to impose significant penalties upon the University. And it’s a fictional creation, whatever attributes people ascribe to it. Can the adults just get past this ?

Tom Napier wrote on November 23, 2017 at 9:11 pm

As background, I'm 66 years old and have earned two (that's 2) degrees from the University of Illinois, one undergraduate and one professional.

As adults, can we get over it? Sure.

We'll get over democracy and the values of the University of Illinois community as a whole. We'll get used to a couple dozen zealots telling tens of thousands what and how to think.

We'll get over the rule of law. We'll learn to embrace rabble and disruption being the normal course of action.

We'll get over civil and reasoned debate. We'll adopt insults and name calling as the standard of intellectual exchange.

We'll get over free speech. We'll become comfortable with censorship being the accepted UI policy.

We'll get over collaboration and compromise. We'll adopt militancy and belligerence to get our way, all of our way, and not a bit less. We'll consider other opinions and options to be worthless. We'll just create problems, not solutions.

We'll get over integrity. We'll accept blackmail and coercion as our primary influences and decision factors. We'll accept the NCAA's hypocrisy in embracing ethnic and cultural college sports identities, including Native Americans, drunken Irishmen, and other people-aren't-mascots mascots.

We'll get over integrity (v.2). We'll commend Stephen Kaufman for accepting his monthly SURS check, while simultaneously stabbing the University of Illinois in the back, the very institution that provided him the opportunity to gain national repute, then retire in financial comfort. We'll applaud Jay Rosenstein for accepting his University of Illinois paycheck while simultaneously attempting to destroy every UI institution he can get his hands on.

We'll get over integrity (v.3). Remember Stephen Kaufman ignored NCAA rules and contacted prospective UI recruits and discouraging them from attending the UI -- when it suited his agenda? And now he admonishes diligent observance of the NCAA's ruling on the use of Native American images and warns the UI about penalties -- when it suites his agenda? We'll embrace the hypocrisy.

We'll get over respect for Native Americans. We'll follow without question a handful of White guys dictating to us what we all must think about Native Americans.

We'll get over respect for Native Americans (v.2). We'll ignore or belittle Native Americans who have expressed their respect for the Chief Illiniwek tradition, just as the anti-Chiefers do. We'll ignore the contributions Native Americans have made over the years to the Chief Illiniwek tradition.

We'll get over University of Illinois leadership. Oh, wait. We've gotten over that by now anyway.

Sure. We can get over a lot of things. Democracy, rule of law, civil debate, free speech, integrity, respect for Native Americans, leadership; they're are all overrated anyway. Let's all chant Pink Floyd's Comfortably Numb as our new anthem.

wykhb wrote on November 27, 2017 at 5:11 pm

Has anyone asked Senator Warren her opinion on this?


uhs1980 wrote on November 23, 2017 at 7:11 pm

Here's an idea, everyone who is tried of Stevie should start mailing him, either snailmail or email, pictures of the Chief. The university wants a new mascot, well let's make it a cat of some kind, then we can be the "Fighting P*ssies".

danaqc02 wrote on November 24, 2017 at 10:11 am

Continuing repercussions from post modern Neo-Marxists identity politics. These folks and their progeny having been infiltrating grad schools since the late 70's. They can't get jobs that pay them what they think they worth in the real world so they are a little cranky.  

BruckJr wrote on November 24, 2017 at 3:11 pm

As a grad student from the 60s I can assure you that the Neo-Marxists at the U. predate the late 70s.

CallSaul wrote on November 24, 2017 at 2:11 pm

Your periodic reminder: the old racist chicken feather 'chief' mascot is gone and it will never be the school's mascot again.

Geto over it already...

...sheesh... wrote on November 24, 2017 at 7:11 pm

Right after you figure out that HRC lost the last Presidental election............. sheesh./................



GLG wrote on November 25, 2017 at 6:11 pm

Hey Kaufman, Rosenstein, and Saul!! Did you see the Cheif Shirts on FS! today??

You guys are pittiful and deserve each other!! What are you going to do call Fox Sports ! and whine?? They will tell you to p*ss up a rope !! Now you can change each others diapers and plan your next move!  Kaufman, Saul ,Rosenstein,"The Three Stooges" Nuk, Nuk,Nuk!!



MasterOfTheObvious wrote on November 26, 2017 at 10:11 am

Not to hard to find chief merchandise... it's still on the FANATICS site

and here

and here

and here, on the OFFICIAL web store of the University of Illinois DIA