SPRINGFIELD – Without discussion, the Illinois House on Wednesday approved a resolution challenging the NCAA's authority to restrict postseason competition for schools making use of American Indian imagery.
State Rep. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet, said he planned to fax a copy to the NCAA president's office immediately.
"It's none of their business what symbol the University of Illinois or any university has," Rose said. "It's up to the board of trustees, the alumni, the faculty, staff and the students."
HR 609 states that the NCAA's action fails to recognize the institutional autonomy guaranteed in its own bylaws.
"Whereas the National Collegiate Athletic Association edict is a giant step backwards in the debate and has caused the loss of common ground to armies of divisiveness; therefore, be it resolved by the House of Representatives of the 94th General Assembly of the State of Illinois that the National Collegiate Athletic Association be denied the ability to compromise the sovereignty of the State of Illinois and its institutions," the resolution said.
The measure passed on a voice vote, and no nays were audible in the chamber. Last week, the House higher education committee unanimously endorsed the resolution.
"The university and the board of trustees appreciate the Illinois House's support for the principle of university self-determination on this matter," said UI spokesman Tom Hardy.
The NCAA did not appear likely to change its stance as a result of the resolution.
"Basically our position is that we have the authority to administer our own NCAA championships to ensure that they are conducted in an atmosphere that's free of racial stereotyping," said NCAA spokesman Bob Williams.
Area lawmakers emphasized that the resolution deliberately did not contain any mention of Chief Illiniwek.
"The point here isn't to be for or against the Chief, the point here is that it's none of the NCAA's business," Rose said.
State Rep. Naomi Jakobsson, D-Urbana, was among nearly 70 co-sponsors on the resolution.
"I voted for this because I believe that it is the responsibility of the University of Illinois and the trustees and they have been working on this," she said. "And the resolution just gives the autonomy to the university to continue to do what they've been doing and let them do their job."
The UI Board of Trustees agreed last year to work toward a "consensus conclusion" on the issue and adopted guidelines in July to help in that endeavor.
Earlier this month the university filed an appeal with the NCAA, arguing that decisions on the use of Chief Illiniwek and the name "Fighting Illini" fall under the jurisdiction of the board of trustees, not the NCAA.
The appeal also stated that the NCAA failed to take into account a 1995 Office of Civil Rights finding regarding Chief Illiniwek, and relied heavily on "inaccurate, incomplete and misleading information supplied by one individual," to which the UI was not given an opportunity to respond. Williams said he did not know when a decision would be reached on the UI's appeal.
Bradley University appeals ruling on Braves
Bradley University has appealed last month's ruling by an NCAA staff review committee that would ban its Braves nickname in postseason play starting next year, university officials said.
A committee of 15 presidents and chancellors from NCAA Division II colleges will consider Bradley's appeal, then make a recommendation to the NCAA's 19-member Executive Committee for a final decision, Williams of the NCAA said.
Williams said there is no timetable for a ruling. Bradley spokeswoman Kathy Fuller said the university does not expect a decision until early next year.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.