Chancellor OKs mascot search

Chancellor OKs mascot search

What'd be your choice for mascot? Tell us with a Letter to the Editor here

URBANA — Nine years after the retirement of Chief Illiniwek, the University of Illinois is launching a process to choose a “first-ever” athletic mascot.

Interim Chancellor Barbara Wilson announced her decision at the campus Academic Senate meeting on Monday.

Wilson endorsed the recommendation from an Illinois Student Senate ad hoc committee that recently urged the campus to move forward with a mascot. She met with the group on Friday.

She plans to form a committee of 10 to 12 people that will draw up a process and a timeline. It will include representatives from all the stakeholders involved — students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members.

Wilson, who had already signaled her support for the student effort, said last week that any new mascot would embody the values and traditions of the campus.

The Ad Hoc Committee on the Exploration of a University Mascot, which took public input at meetings and via email, concluded that while student and alumni opinions remain divided, a mascot would be an overall benefit for the campus.

The committee said students don’t have anything tangible to rally around at athletic events, and that the Chief’s retirement left a “void.”

The UI retired Chief Illiniwek, which it referred to as a “symbol,” in 2007 under pressure from the NCAA and others who argued that it was racist.

The student panel also said a mascot could provide considerable marketing and branding appeal, boost school spirit, appeal to younger students and fans, and help combat continued use of offensive images of the Chief, especially during the Unofficial St. Patrick’s Day drinking holiday.

The committee emphasized the effort would not involve changing the “Fighting Illini” nickname or the “Three-in-One” music.

In public input to the student committee, faculty and staff members expressed strong support for the idea of moving ahead with a mascot. They argued the use of Native American imagery can affirm negative stereotypes; that the timing is good, with the UI’s upcoming sesquicentennial; and that a mascot could be a “unifying emblem” for the campus, the report said.

Overall student testimony was split, but more were in favor.

By contrast, community members and alumni were strongly opposed, though some alumni who liked the Chief still wanted to “move on.” Many community members were unhappy with how the Chief was retired and said pro-Chief students and community members were under-represented.

Members of the Student Athletic Advisory Committee, which has two athletes from each Division I team, unanimously supported the idea — though one expressed concern that a mascot not “trivialize” the UI’s image, the report said.

Students who favored a mascot suggested that, without one, Chief imagery would be perpetuated, prolonging the pain expressed by those who are Native American.

Opponents said they didn’t believe the university needed a new mascot, and fans would rather not have one. Given the strong feelings of Chief supporters and proponents, one student said that having no mascot was “the closest to a middle ground that we will find,” and some felt a mascot would actually worsen tensions.

Students also argued that the effort ignored past student initiatives, including a 2013 referendum on a campus mascot in which students voted for “no change.”

The committee said it’s also important, as part of the process, for the campus to officially recognize the Chief as an important part of the UI’s history and traditions.

Further education and discussion of the Chief and related issues is also essential, especially from Native Americans who are “too often silenced and stereotyped,” the report said.

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jlf2626 wrote on May 02, 2016 at 4:05 pm
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Its going to be embarrassing when 1/2 the fans at the State Farm center Boo's their own Mascot. IMO - NO Chief = No Mascot !

wayward wrote on May 02, 2016 at 4:05 pm

How about "Drunky," the intoxicated undergrad?

BruckJr wrote on May 02, 2016 at 5:05 pm

Not a good move, Babs.  If you put a mascot on the field for a football game you aren't going to like the response that he/she/it will elicit from the crowd.

UIUCHoopFan wrote on May 02, 2016 at 5:05 pm

I would think interim Chancellor Wilson would have much more pressing business on her desk than a mascot for the University.....ever heard of a little thing called the BUDGET or the EXODUS FROM UIUC?

Sounds to me like she's trying awfully hard to keep that seat in the ivory tower. I would think this would be something for the new, permanent Chancellor to cut their teeth on when hired.

Looks like a tremendous amount of taxpayer money will go to a search firm with a ready list of possible Chancellor candidates, only to hire the interim.

Illinois has become quite the onion that becomes stinkier and stinkier with each layer peeled.

areader wrote on May 02, 2016 at 5:05 pm

This is nonsense!

Rocky7 wrote on May 02, 2016 at 9:05 pm



CecilColeman wrote on May 02, 2016 at 7:05 pm


If U of I is going to do something as silly as creating a mascot, I vote for Professor Kaufman. He represents all that stinks in the world of political correctness. 

Obviously the NCAA fat cats in Indianapolis would approve; they're the ones who bought into Kaufman's "the campus is torn apart" nonsense.

If gender equity insists on a separate mascot for women's teams, Nancy Cantor fits the bill.

The U of I will continue to be the laughing stock of the college sports world with those two birdbrains as mascots.

hokyshmokes wrote on May 02, 2016 at 8:05 pm

If the new mascot is not genderqueer and multiracial, it will be a hate crime.

Tyronius P HoggLegg wrote on May 02, 2016 at 8:05 pm

Drunky!!! I like it....but remember to make IT non gender specific..and if it needs a safe can find one....

Tyronius P HoggLegg wrote on May 02, 2016 at 8:05 pm

Maybe "The settlin Interims"...A giant headed mascot who wanders around the field making huge payouts to other mascots/coaches/players/ leave and never work again....

CHIEF FOREVER wrote on May 02, 2016 at 8:05 pm

I am so happy that Ms. Wilson is the interim chancellor.  What we really need are true Illini back in leadership roles at the campus.  We've had such a collection of poor choices that our flagship university has become a laughingstock and alumni are tired of it.  We don't need a mascot.  Re- instate the Chief and tell the NCAA to pound sand.

IllinoisLoyalty wrote on May 02, 2016 at 9:05 pm

We don't need a mascot, we need a Chief!

illini82 wrote on May 02, 2016 at 9:05 pm

The tail wags the dog in the world of liberal elitism. Only a small minority supports this including a minority of students but they'll ram this through anyway. Force feeding ideolgy. If they can't use the power of persuasion then they'll use the persuasion of power. It's their way.

They'll attempt to shove this so called new mascot down our throats while they pass restrictions on the image of the Chief on campus including athletic facilities and on game days.  Got a Chief shirt or hat? Sorry, take it off or you can't enter this parking lot or the stadium or any campus building. That day is coming.

To hell with all of them.


PSL wrote on May 03, 2016 at 6:05 am

The old racist mascot was definitely a mascot

Illini1973 wrote on May 02, 2016 at 9:05 pm
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In this cesspool of liberalism, the mascot should come from the LGBT community...or maybe a 'Bernie' clown (bald headed old white guy).

rocko wrote on May 03, 2016 at 1:05 am

This is the most idiotic notion I've heard since we hired Beckman.  I can hear Kaufmann giggling right now from whatever sewer he resides in.  The University of Illinois doesn't need a stupid mascot to rival other stupid mascots such as Bucky Badger, Herky the Hawkeye or that stupid Buckeye.  We need a symbol, which we had for decades until the PC crowd, led by Kaufmann, banged their spoons on their respective high chairs and the moronic NCAA forced our hand.  That was bad enough.  Replace the Chief?  There is no replacing our beloved Chief. To attempt to do so is unthinkable.

cbane80 wrote on May 03, 2016 at 1:05 am

I'm seeing a pattern here.  Did the PC crowd fall asleep???

Proof that a few loud mouth's ruined a tradition.  Thanks for playing everyone but you're nine years too late!  Next time, let's pitch a fit right along with them.  Apparently, acting like a toddler until you get your way is the only way things work (as shown by our very own state government).  Forget the high road.  Let's all throw a tantrum. 

annabellissimo wrote on May 03, 2016 at 2:05 am

An interim chancellor should not have the authority to implement anything that is adopted as a permanent representation of the institution. There should be a public vote on whether the Chief returns or is abandoned. The NCAA has proven itself to be corrupt and filthy given that the ostensible purpose of an institution of higher learning was completely perverted at North Carolina and other schools, but did anybody notice the absence of North Carolina or Louisville at the NCAA tournament? The UNC coach, that great scholar and advocate for intellectual achievement, Roy Williams, was he absent? Any suspensions for any of the debased, corrupt, denigration of academic performance that North Carolina was guilty of (not "allegedly", but proven)? Yet a long-standing tradition of a figure representing a warrior spirit is grounds for all kinds of punishment? The within the rules rejection of an anti-Semitic violent-language spewing no-nothing tentative hire generates threats of punishment? The University of Illinois leaders - real, not interim, not purveyors of nonsense - if such can be found and then their spines located - need to, at long last, stand up to the NCAA bullies as well as the self-declared bullies on campus. If no Chief, then no mascot. We don't need no stinkin' mascot! We are still the Fighting Illini - at least until the bullies destroy that, too. Maybe we should just capitulate and take the name of the Loud Bullies and let the loud bullies take turns wearing the big head that they grew while pretending to be more "evolved" than everybody else and garnering an outrageous degree of power over the university. If only we could have interim loud bullies rather than the permanent, entrenched variety who rise up at every opportunity to be loud and threatening.

PSL wrote on May 03, 2016 at 6:05 am

It's funny to see how many people are still crying about the dancing stereotype being gone. I hope this never ends.

Illiniwek222 wrote on May 03, 2016 at 10:05 am

Anna hit it on the head with her comment "let the people vote". The overwhelming majority would vote for the Chief's return. Unfortunately, that vote will never happen.

What CAN happen is this: The board of trustees was previously elected by the voters of the state. That process was changed several years ago. The state's governor now selects the trustees. It was the board of trustees that "retired" the Chief.

The selection of the members of the board should be returned to the voters. The Chief would return soon after.

long livethechief wrote on May 03, 2016 at 1:05 pm

How about "Pat, the entitled little sissy that bends over for everyone, except the majority!" can just be an orange square with no face at all.  


Just leave it alone.  No mascot will work, it will be despised and you all know it.

illiniphil85 wrote on May 04, 2016 at 12:05 am

Why inflame an already fractured fan base? We don't need some corn pone caricature as a mascot. Good to see Wilson focused on that which matters most. I shake my head in disbelief at the stuff happening at my beloved alma mater. It's like a contest to see how much I can take before I finally give up support. 

Sid Saltfork wrote on May 04, 2016 at 12:05 pm

According to legend, Memorial Stadium sits on an ancient Native-American burial ground. 

Tom Napier wrote on May 04, 2016 at 6:05 pm

This is nothing but smoke being blown by both our Interim Chancellor and President, fowl smelling, dense, and choking. It's hollow rhetoric detached from reality, intended to obscure, not clarify. They talk about transparency and inclusion, but the process they've dictated is anything but.


The only way to resolve this controversy is to issue a referendum to all stakeholders within the University of Illinois community as to whether a "mascot" is desired or not. Stakeholders must include all students, faculty and staff, and alumni. There may be others with a legitimate interest in the University, and they must also be included. Stakeholders do not include outsiders, carpetbaggers, or influence peddlers whose occupation does not fully commit them to the University of Illinois.


One person, one vote. Binding. All inclusive. No "select" committees. Majority rules.


If the referendum passes, then and only then would the University initiate a process to define this "mascot," transparent and all-inclusive of University stakeholders. If it fails, no more consideration will be given to a "mascot" for a defined period of time, say 25 years.


Will the Interim Chancellor and President have the respect for the University community -- all of it --to solicit its input? Will they have the courage to honor the results?


Not bleeping likely. But we have to try.

mustwhiz wrote on May 05, 2016 at 11:05 pm

WOW! For two smart people the Chancellor and President have incredibly poor timing. After hiring Josh Whitman who might just be the right person to unite our frustrated fan base and gain back respectability, you choose to reignite the single most devisive topic to effect Illini fans. Alums are sick of the constant railing against the Chief by Kaufmann and the vocal few. Recent polls on and off campus would refute your comments about how people feel. How about finishing the job of bringing our teams back to respectability instead of dividing our fan base once again. Everyone is entitled to one mulligan....move on!! 

















mustwhiz wrote on May 05, 2016 at 11:05 pm

WOW! For two smart people the Chancellor and President have incredibly poor timing. After hiring Josh Whitman who might just be the right person to unite our frustrated fan base and gain back respectability, you choose to reignite the single most devisive topic to effect Illini fans. Alums are sick of the constant railing against the Chief by Kaufmann and the vocal few. Recent polls on and off campus would refute your comments about how people feel. How about finishing the job of bringing our teams back to respectability instead of dividing our fan base once again. Everyone is entitled to one mulligan....move on!! 

















Tom Napier wrote on May 09, 2016 at 11:05 am

OK, I get it. Resistance if futile. We'll have a mascot whether we need one or not. So, to get with the program, I'll nominate the following:


"ROBERT THE WARRIOR." This mascot celebrates its namesake's Native American heritage. No further explanation is necessary. Or possible. Most importantly, he can't offend himself.


"THE APOLOGIZER BUNNY." This fuzzy cotton tail of a mascot will prance and twirl along the sidelines thumping a big bass drum with "I'm So Sorry" printed in orange and blue letters, apologizing to anyone and everyone for anything and everything. Halftime would celebrate BUNNY's position at the bottom of the food chain by being devoured by Herky the Hawk, Bucky the Badger, an unnamed Wolverine, Willie the Wildcat, the Nittany Lion, and other predatory mascots. Great theater!


"SUCKER." A large, slimy, amorphous invertebrate pays homage to Illinois history and the State's former nickname while also being the ideal metaphor for today's University of Illinois. Having no spine, it can float along the currents of political correctness without resistance. It also represents the students, alumni, university supporters, and Illinois taxpayers who allow the UI Administration to tell us all what to think. One side of the stadium or arena would yell "WE ARE ... " and the other side would respond with "... SUCKERS!" Perfect!