The university accuses the NCAA of unfairly characterizing the "Illini" and "Fighting Illini" nicknames and Chief Illiniwek mascot used on the Urbana-Champaign campus as "hostile and abusive" and sets out lengthy examples the university says prove the contrary.
"This new policy conflicts directly with the established NCAA principles of institutional responsibility and autonomy. ... Your failure or refusal to exempt UIUC from this arbitrarily derived policy will significantly affect our institutional autonomy and impair our ability to participate fully and equally as a member institution in NCAA competition," UI Board of Trustees Chairman Lawrence C. Eppley wrote in his six-page appeal letter, which was accompanied by 21 pages of supporting documentation.
"Publications from the early 1900s plainly show that Illini was a common reference to the people of Illinois or Illinoisans," he wrote. "At the university, Illini is a reference not only to athletic teams, but also to students, living alumni and all those who wish to associate themselves in a positive way with Illinois' largest public university and one of the nation's great land grant universities."