NCAA forces Illini tennis team to play on the road

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Illinois' mascot has cost the school a
chance to extend its seven-year streak of hosting NCAA men's tennis
The NCAA's executive committee declined last week to remove
Chief Illiniwek from its list of "hostile and abusive" mascots,
making Illinois ineligible to host postseason athletic tournaments.
Supporters of the mascot, a student dressed in buckskins who
dances at halftime, say it honors the state's heritage; opponents
say it perpetuates a racial stereotype that demeans American
North Dakota and Indiana University of Pennsylvania also lost
their appeal on Friday.
The Fighting Illini will play Western Illinois, the
Mid-Continent Conference's automatic bid, on May 12 in the
Louisville Regional.
Illinois, 22-6, ended the season ranked No. 8 and is the
tournament's seventh seed. It is the Illini's 11th straight NCAA
tournament appearance.
On Thursday, Illinois congressman Tim Johnson, whose district
includes the university's main campus, and house speaker Dennis
Hastert introduced legislation designed to prevent the NCAA from
limiting schools' autonomy. The NCAA should "go back to scheduling
ballgames and leave the social engineering to others," Johnson
said in a written statement.
However, Johnson has said he doubts such a bill would ever
become law.