The University of Illinois has decided to retire Chief Illiniwek after his last halftime dance Wednesdays final men's basketball home game. This will immediately end the NCAA ban on the illini hosting postseason games.
If the basketball team ends up in the National Invitation Tournament, which is now owned by the NCAA, it will be able to play home games.
For me feelings are mixed. I grew up with the tradition. Chief Illiniwek visited our school when I was younger and taught us not only about the Chief Illiniwek tradition, but also about the native american culture.
So while I adore those memories and tradition perhaps it is time for the Chief to retire. Certainly the university has more to hang it's hat on than a mascot, and if it is something that is ultimately seen as offensive rather than respectful, then perhaps it is time to not use a race of people as an image for athletics.
However, as with anything, it is the hypocrisy of the situation that I find most disturbing.
So far two Illinois teams have been impacted by the NCAA sanctions. The men's tennis team was forced on the road last spring, and the women's soccer team had to play outside Champaign last fall.
Ironically enough, the soccer team ended up losing at Florida State. The Seminole mascot has dogged NCAA sanctions.
Here are some other mascots to consider; Fighting Irish, Rebels, Aztecs, Gauchos