Trustee questions Chief decision

By Kathleen Foody

Questions remain surrounding the retirement of Chief Illiniwek as the official symbol of the University more than a week after its announcement via press release on Feb. 16.

A University trustee has now said the Chief is still the official symbol because the entire Board of Trustees did not make the decision to retire the tradition.

David Dorris told The Daily Illini that Lawrence Eppley, board chairman, told him of the announcement by phone before it was made last Friday, but no vote among the trustees was taken.

“The statement is not an official action,” he said. “Changing the policy of the University takes board action and that wasn’t done.”

According to the Board bylaws, “the Executive Committee functions as an instrument of the board and shall possess all the powers of the board when in session, provided that it shall not overrule, revise, or change the previous acts of the board, or take from regular or special committees any business referred to them by the board.”

The last official announcement concerning the Chief made by the board was a resolution passed in 1990. The resolution officially retained Chief Illiniwek as the symbol of the University. In 1990, one of the trustees was against the decision, as were the two student trustees, who only had advisory votes at the time.

In June 2004, the board issued a resolution that it would seek a consensus conclusion, which University spokesman Tom Hardy said is considered a board action. In the resolution, the board stated its intent to “resolve the Chief Illiniwek matter in a manner that is in the very best interest of the University and not of any particular constituency or interest group, that is consistent with the values espoused and practiced by the University.” The board adopted guidelines for the process in July and September 2005.

However, no official statement was made until the release issued on Feb. 16 retiring the tradition.

Dorris said the statement created an impression that there was a unanimous agreement among the trustees on the decision to end the halftime performances. But Dorris said he would have voted against any resolution to retire the Chief tradition.

He said he was not consulted about the questions and answers posted on the University’s Web site following the announcement either, which have now been removed from the site.

Dorris said the decision was imprecise in its language and left many questions to be answered.

“Even I, as passionately as I love athletics and tradition, understand there was going to be a decision,” he said. “But we have been left in a totally confused state.”