Illini Football in Trouble for Headdresses
Last Friday, Illinois’ football team gathered at Memorial Stadium for a “strong man competition” fundraiser organized by the student group Uplifting Athletes, for which $5,000 was raised for the Acoustic Neuroma Association of America.
Despite the event’s noble cause, it is now the source of controversy after photos from the event in which Illini players who won the strong man events donned feathered headdresses and smeared orange and blue face paint on their bodies were posted to (then later removed from) Facebook.
The school’s former Native American mascot, Chief Illiniwek, was retired in 2007 after being deemed racially insensitive.
“When dealing with the Chief and things involved in this program, in this university, we need to make sure we understand everything that’s involved in that,” said head coach Tim Beckman, who was not present at the event (nor were any members of his coaching staff) and planned to address his team Wednesday. “When making decisions on this, we need to make sure we’re making it in a way that’s right for the university. Everything we do, we do for the university.”
For a team that went a woeful 2-10 last season, this is the last reason the Illini need to be making the news right now.