Professor Upset by University of Illinois 'Chief Illiniwek' Merchandise
The University of Illinois has received complaints that its former mascot, Chief Illiniwek, should not be available for licensed merchandise.
According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Stephen Kaufman, emeritus professor at the University of Illinois, wrote to interim chancellor Barbara Wilson and president Timothy Killeen, asking why items featuring the mascot were still available.
University trustees voted in 2007 to stop using the Chief Iliniwek name, logo and images related to Native Americans. The NCAA does not allow the university's athletic department to have an official association with the logo or name, and the school ordered all of its licensees—400 in total—to stop making Chief Illiniwek merchandise.
In 2009, however, the university made a limited number of Chief Illiniwek items available online, after the logo was added to Collegiate Licensing Co.'s "College Vault" program. The university made around $1,300 of the $25,000 it received from licensing for that fiscal year.
"Kindly explain what appears to be the official licensing of this prohibited use of university property and what you plan to do to bring the Urbana campus and vendors and manufacturers into compliance with both U of I policy as well as NCAA policy without delay," Kaufman wrote in his letter.
University of Illinois assistant athletic director Marty Kaufmann insisted that the licensing program allows people "to remember the history and memory but not have it on campus or have it where it's overly accessible to our students or the local community." He added that the sales of the Chief Illiniwek items protect the school's trademark on it.
However, Kaufman said that the university is going beyond the bare minimum to keep the trademark.
A Twitter account called "Chief Illiniwek" remains active online. It's bio says "Official Twitter account for the historical representation of the Chief. About all things #Illini. We're gone, but not forgotten." The site posts updates on University of Illinois athletics.