Robert Novak

That may seem irrational but less so than NCAA approval of Florida State University's use of the Seminole nickname and Chief Osceola (no less dignified than Chief Illiniwek) riding his horse at football games to the tune of Indian war chants. Florida State passed the Brand test because of approval from the Seminole Tribe of Florida, which receives scholarship aid from the university. The University of Illinois cannot make such an arrangement because the original Illini were wiped out in inter-tribal wars in the 1760s.

Stanford led capitulation to political correctness, changing from the Indians to the Cardinal in 1972. Other schools -- such as the University of North Dakota trying to remain the Fighting Sioux -- have fought a losing battle. The NCAA was disingenuous when it claimed, in declaring victory over the Chief last Friday, that it "never mandated" that colleges "change their mascots." In fact, it rejected Illinois sponsorship of an NCAA event and was ready to prevent Illinois from hosting a National Invitational Tournament basketball game. Such sanctions threatened Illinois' recruiting of non-revenue sports athletes.

Chief Illiniwek finally was done in by politicians jumping on the NCAA's political correctness bandwagon. Illinois State Senate President Emil Jones Jr., no friend of the university, warned that trustees might not be confirmed unless they dumped the Chief, and university officials feared their appropriations coming under attack.

While I can understand dumping the Chief, I don't like it. I could react by withdrawing from my long-range commitments to support the University of Illinois, but I won't. That would put me in the same class as the petty bureaucrats and politicians who killed Chief Illiniwek.

Robert Novak

Robert Novak (1931-2009) was a syndicated columnist and editor of the Evans-Novak Political Report.

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