25, No. 10, Nov. 17, 2005
NCAA OKs names ‘Illini,’
Illiniwekremains an issue
On Nov. 11, the NCAA agreed with the UI Board of Trustees that the use
of the nicknames “Illini” and “Fighting Illini”
are not reasons for including the university on the list of schools
subject to its policy banning Native American names and symbols.
In a split decision, the NCAA approved the use of the names Illini and
Fighting Illini by the UI, but the staff review committee rejected the
university’s arguments regarding the Chief Illiniwek tradition.
The NCAA’s decision on the names “Illini” and “Fighting
Illini,” based upon the information provided by the university
and on the NCAA’s own research and discussions with Native American
groups, concurred with the university’s position that the term
“Illini” is closely related to the name of the state and
is not directly associated with Native Americans.
Board of trustees Chair Lawrence C. Eppley expressed gratitude that
the NCAA concurred with the university’s view on the names.
“I am pleased the NCAA recognized what we’ve maintained
all along,” Eppley said. “ ‘Illini’ is taken
from the name of our patron state and ‘Fighting Illini’
refers to our university’s winning spirit and drive to excel.”
Eppley also stated that the board will consider its options for further
response to the NCAA on the other matters raised in the NCAA’s
response to the appeal.