EUGENE, Ore. -- University of Oregon officials say the men's
basketball team will play top-ranked Illinois in Chicago this
weekend, despite calls from faculty and student groups to cancel
the game because the Fighting Illini have an American Indian
University officials, however, agreed to adopt a policy on the
scheduling of future games with schools that have mascots deemed
Dan Williams, vice president for administration, told the
Register-Guard newspaper that the university signed contracts to
play Illinois in 2004 and 2005, believing the mascot issue would be
resolved by now.
The University of Illinois board of trustees took up the issue
in June, but decided against taking a yes-or-no vote on the Chief
"We had reason to believe they were going to eliminate (the
mascot) well in advance of our games," Williams said.
Williams said he has asked the university's Intercollegiate
Athletics Committee to propose a policy that can be put in place by
the end of the winter academic term in March.
"We set a deadline to let students know we're serious about
this," he said. "We don't have any disagreement on this issue.
The only point of disagreement is on canceling the [Illinois]
Saturday's game is a contractual arrangement between the two
universities, while next year's game in Portland involves a
contract with ESPN Regional.
Critics say they're pleased the university has committed to such
a policy, but remain frustrated that Saturday's game will be
"The policy doesn't feel like enough," said Natasha Joseph,
director of the Native American Student Union on campus. "Playing
these games seem kind of in opposition to a formal policy, when
they have the option to make a stance and show some integrity."
The university's Student Senate last week unanimously approved a
resolution declaring the use of "indigenous sports mascots" to be
a violation of the school's mission statement and nondiscrimination
policies. The Faculty and Staff of Color Coalition called the
university's decision to play the games "a dishonor and insult"
to American Indians at the university.
Officials from both schools have decided that the mascot -- a
white student dressed in Plains Indian headdress and garb -- won't
appear at next year's game in Portland.
At least one campus, the University of Wisconsin, already has a
policy restricting the use of visiting teams' American Indian logos
The Badgers do not schedule regular-season games with a team
using an American Indian mascot or nickname unless the team is a
traditional rival or a conference member. The escape clause
pertains to Illinois, a Big 10 Conference opponent.