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Illinois trustees to work with NCAA on mascot

URBANA, Ill. -- University of Illinois trustees said Tuesday they still believe they can reach a "consensus solution" with the NCAA that would save the Chief Illiniwek athletic mascot.

"The Board and the University community have been engaged in an effort to reach a consensus solution to the issue of the Chief," trustees Chairman Lawrence C. Eppley said in a statement. "We believe that this is an achievable goal."

The NCAA placed Chief Illiniwek on its list of "hostile and abusive" mascots in August, making Illinois ineligible to host postseason athletic tournaments. The NCAA executive committee rejected Illinois' final appeal of the decision April 28, although it can keep its Illini and Fighting Illini nicknames. Supporters of the mascot, a student dressed in buckskins and headdress who dances at halftime, say it honors the state's heritage; opponents say it perpetuates a racial stereotype that demeans American Indians.

Illinois received a six-page written statement from the NCAA on Monday explaining its decision to reject the university's appeal.

"Illinois had multiple opportunities to present evidence in support of its position," the letter stated. "However, Illinois simply failed to present sufficient information to the staff review committee or the Executive Committee on which to conclude that the 'Chief Illiniwek tradition' should not be subject to the policy."