The University of Illinois halftime show will go on.
No drastic changes are being made to the halftime show at Illini football games this year, despite the loss of the school’s longtime mascot, Chief Illiniwek. The school shelved the mascot earlier this year after decades of debate over whether it was a racist symbol or an honored tradition.
Illini Marching Band Director Peter Griffin said the halftime show will look a lot like it did before, despite the Chief’s absence.
Band members will play the Three-in-One music and form the letters I-L-L-I-N-I on the field.
“It will look as it always has, except there will be no gap between I-L-L and I-N-I,” Griffin said.
University Chancellor Richard Herman said he made the decision to stick with the familiar halftime shows after consulting with former Chiefs and faculty and staff on campus.
“I’m not going to say the decision was unanimous, but I do think it’s a good thing,” he said.
Herman said the university has no plans for a new mascot or symbol.
The chief debuted in a homemade American Indian costume during an Illini football game in 1926 and has been a subject of turmoil for decades.
Supporters view the dancing mascot and his elaborate costume as an honored symbol of both American Indian tradition and Illini sports. Meanwhile, critics say the chief and his dance are racist and insulting.
Removing the chief freed the university of NCAA sanctions after the organization deemed Illiniwek portrayed by buckskin-clad students who dance at home football and basketball games and other athletic events an offensive use of American Indian imagery and barred the school from hosting postseason athletic events.
Information from: The News-Gazette, http://www.news-gazette.com
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