CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – The last vestiges of Chief Illiniwek could be swept from the University of Illinois stage when the board of trustees decides whether to retire the mascot's name, regalia and image.
The resolution before the board Tuesday also asks them to take the unusual step of ratifying last month's decision to end the chief's performances.
The resolution would leave the details — such as how and when the Chief Illiniwek name and image would stop being used and licensed to apparel makers and others — to Chancellor Richard Herman and the administration at the Champaign-Urbana campus, board spokesman Tom Hardy said.
The school would continue to call its sports teams the Fighting Illini under the resolution.
Trustee David Dorris, who supports the mascot, complained Monday that the measure wasn't available for review until less than 24 hours before Tuesday's meeting. The item was added to the meeting's agenda Friday, but without detail.
He also said the board should sort out the details, rather than leaving the work to the administration.
"This is just the absolute worst way possible to handle this whole thing," said Dorris, an attorney from Le Roy.
The February decision to end the performances was made without a vote, which Board Chairman Lawrence Eppley has said wasn't needed. Nonetheless, Hardy said, voting now could blunt any legal action claiming there should have been a vote.
"This certainly would count as formal action by the board," Hardy said.
A state lawmaker has asked the Attorney General's office whether making the decision without a vote was legal.
The decision to do away with the chief ended 81 years of performances at sports events by students wearing American Indian regalia. It also freed the University of Illinois from a sanction by the NCAA — which deemed Illiniwek and his dance a "hostile and abusive" use of American Indian imagery — that for two years barred the Illini from hosting postseason sports.
Activists and some American Indians have long complained that the chief is offensive and demeaning, while backers defend him as an honorable tradition.
Board members also are to consider a resolution authored by Dorris that would direct the university to join a lawsuit filed by the last two students to portray the chief. The suit asks a judge to determine whether the NCAA could sanction Illinois over the mascot.