Trustees to vote on two Chief resolutions

By Kathleen Foody

The University Board of Trustees will consider two opposing resolutions during its monthly meeting Tuesday that were introduced in reaction to the retiring of the Chief Illiniwek tradition on Feb. 16.

One seeks to ratify the announcement made via press release, while the other would add the University to a lawsuit filed by current Chief portrayers Dan Maloney and Logan Ponce questioning the legality, validity and enforceability of the NCAA’s policy and sanctions placed on the Chief Illiniwek tradition.

The resolutions were added to the agenda March 9, but the full text versions were not released until Monday.

The first resolution was a collaborative effort of University President B. Joseph White and other officials, University spokesman Tom Hardy said.

It would eliminate the use of the regalia, logo and the names “Chief Illiniwek” and “Chief” in connection with the University and its athletic teams, in addition to confirming the retirement of the halftime performances.

The University’s administration would take on the responsibility of finalizing the halt of the use of the regalia, logo and names. The resolution also would end the consensus process that began with a resolution adopted in June 2004 by the board.

If the resolution passes, “this matter will no longer be pending in front of the Board of Trustees,” Hardy said.

The second resolution was submitted by trustee David Dorris of Bloomington and would be the final step in the process to appeal the NCAA’s policy as applied to Chief Illiniwek. Dorris said he could not be sure which trustees would support his resolution because he has intentionally refrained from campaigning for it.

“I have had conversations with other trustees that have encouraged me to continue with developing this,” he said. “But I don’t have a clue whether it has the votes to pass.”

Despite criticism for being vocally against the board’s actions, Dorris said the issue is not going away on its own.

“I can accept change, but I can’t accept an indictment of the people of the past who enjoyed this tradition or a decision made without credibility,” he said.

The University’s support would be a welcome action, said Brent Holmes, the attorney for Maloney and Ponce.

“There would be very little additional expense to simply have the court in the declaratory release count tell everybody whether the NCAA acted legally and in accordance with state law,” Holmes said. “By taking it to court, you can be assured of a fair proceeding, a due process protections for all the participants and a legally binding decision by an impartial judge. Who can possibly be against that?”

The resolution developed by White is scheduled to be considered before Dorris’ resolution. If the board approves the resolution ratifying the retirement of the Chief, Dorris said his resolution would become moot.

“It would be contradictory and would end the whole discussion,” he said.

“I’m not sure if that one (White’s resolution) has enough support to pass or not, but I assume they wouldn’t have put it on the agenda if they didn’t think it did,” he added.

Dorris questioned the legitimacy of the resolution calling for ratification of the decision because it was not released 48 hours ahead of time as is required by the board’s bylaws.

“We’re talking about one of the most emotional and controversial issues in years,” he said. “To drop that on trustees less than 24 hours before the meeting and expect them to vote on it is governance out of control.”

The meeting will be held in the Pine Lounge of the Illini Union at 9 a.m.