Deadline extended if ruling is appealed

By Courtney Linehan

When the NCAA temporarily waived three schools from its anti-American Indian imagery policy, Illinois got an opportunity for an extension in deciding the fate of Chief Illiniwek.

At a meeting held on January 9, the NCAA executive committee opted to address University of North Dakota, Bradley University and Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s appeals no sooner than its April 27 meeting. It also temporarily removed those schools from the list of those affected by the organization’s August 2005 ban on the use of American Indian mascots, logos and nicknames at postseason competitions.

If Illinois files an appeal before the ban goes into affect Feb. 1, Illinois will also get the temporary exemption.

“Since last August the University of Illinois has taken a deliberative, measured approach to the NCAA policy, and that would appear to be what the NCAA is doing in this case,” University spokesman Tom Hardy said. “It’s good that rather than try to rush to a decision shortly before the policy goes into affect, the NCAA says it is going to give some deliberative review to these appeals.”

This does not mean that Chief Illiniwek will perform if either basketball team competes in the NCAA postseason. Hardy said the University’s standing policy is that Chief Illiniwek only performs at home events. He said only a Board of Trustees decision can change that.

The Chief could perform if either basketball team hosts the NIT, a second postseason basketball tournament, which was recently moved to NCAA control. The Chief did perform the last time Illinois hosted the NIT.

Bradley, North Dakota and Indiana University of Pennsylvania appealed their inclusions on the list of schools with “hostile and abusive” mascots, logos and nicknames, and all three lost those initial appeals to a staff review committee. The second appeal in the process goes directly to the executive committee.

While Illinois filed an initial appeal, which was denied in November, it has not yet filed another.

Hardy said the Board is working toward sending a second appeal.

“Board members have indicated their intention to take the appeal process to the next level,” Hardy said.

North Dakota spokesman Phil Harmeson said his school learned before the executive committee’s Monday meeting that the school would have a temporary extension.

Harmeson said the NCAA told North Dakota that the school’s second appeal included “new information,” but said he disagreed with that statement.

“We assert that it did not,” Harmeson said. “The only thing that was new was the way we crafted the argument.”

Bradley spokeswoman Kathy Fuller said her university had prepared two statements in case the NCAA made a decision in favor of or against the continuation of the “Braves” nickname.

“Now we’re just waiting until April or when we get the final word from the NCAA,” Fuller said.

Hardy said the American Indian imagery debate is not new for the NCAA or the Board of Trustees, and that the Board continues to work towards its own solution. He also said that institutional autonomy remains important to the University in reacting to the NCAA’s decisions.

“In terms of the Chief Illiniwek tradition, the status quo remains until the Board of Trustees decides otherwise,” he said.