Sunday, April 30, 2006

Last Dance?

It would appear that the University of Illinois' administration and trustees have finally and with finality received the deus ex machina that allows them to blame someone else for pulling the rug out from under Chief Illiniwek.

The NCAA handed down a decision on Friday that would disallow the U of I from hosting any NCAA championship events -- in any sport -- as long as Chief continues to appear at football and basketball games. When you consider the fact that Illinois has never hosted an NCAA mens basketball tournament game in Assembly Hall, as well as the fact that it never will under any circumstances anyway (it is both geographically and capacitously undesirable -- and yes I realize that capacitously is not a word) this really means that Champaign will never be a venue for non-revenue sport championships. Honestly, I can't say for sure that U of I has ever been host to the NCAA championships of anything, other than some early rounds of mens tennis. Wrestling, maybe?

In other words, the possible NCAA sanction would seem to be of very limited punitive value. But that is certainly not what you hear from the administration.
"The inability to host NCAA championship competition would have an unbelievably negative effect on our program," [Athletic Director Ron Guenther] said. "The university has invested large amounts of resources in facilities, scholarships and coaches in our [non-revenue] sports."
None of which is recouped by hosting non-revenue sports -- hence the adjective -- but anyway.

In the end, it's probably for the best. As much as I love Chief, and as much as I enjoy his part in the halftime show, he is a relic of bygone sensibility, one that does the University something of a disservice on the national stage. If the NCAA edict allows the University to retire Chief without taking too much of a hit from disgruntled alumni donors, then this may be for the best.

And anyway, to be honest, if they still allowed us to go out to our cars for a cold one at halftime I probably would never even miss him. Guess that would be the price for me to throw him over.


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