News out of the University of Illinois concerning it's mascot coincidentally came shortly after a post last week about unique mascots. This post is about controversial mascots as the University of Illinois announced that it will retire its 81-year-old American Indian mascot, Chief Illiniwek, following the last men's home basketball game of the season on Wednesday. In 2005, the NCAA deemed the buckskin-clad Illiniwek an offensive use of American Indian imagery and barred the university from hosting postseason events.
Illinois still will be able to use the name Illini because it's short for Illinois and the school can use the term Fighting Illini, because it's considered a reference to the team's competitive spirit, school officials said. It is unclear if the school will get a new mascot.
School officials said they received a letter from the NCAA on Thursday that said the school will no longer be banned from hosting postseason events if it drops the mascot and related American Indian imagery. The NCAA's sanctions thus far have prevented Illinois from hosting postseason events in two low-profile sports.
American Indian groups and others complained for years that the mascot, used since 1926, is demeaning. Supporters of the mascot say it honors the contributions of American Indians to Illinois.
What side of the debate are you on?