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Illinois Will Stop Doing The 'War Chant' At Athletic Events

The Fighting Illini will stop doing the chant.

The University of Illinois announced today that it is eliminating the playing of the Illini "war chant" at athletic events.

The school had discontinued its Chief Illiniwek mascot about a decade ago, but as recently as last fall, the "war chant" was being done at football games.

That will no longer be happening.

"There are people who felt that was an offensive Native American chant or music," athletic department spokesman Kent Brown told the Associated Press. "Another big part of that was that we had used it on third-down situations and our fan reaction to that was not as good as when we used our video board to prompt our fans."

Illinois athletic director Josh Whitman wrote a letter to the fan base regarding the chant.

From his letter:

I believe, unabashedly, that we have the power to bring people together at a time when our society struggles to come together about virtually anything else. The Division of Intercollegiate Athletics sees this as one of its overarching purposes, which we have memorialized in a new mission statement: Unify. Develop. Inspire. Achieve. We have worked extensively on this mission statement over the last 12 months, trying to distill, into the simplest terms possible, our reason for being. "Unify" appears first on the list for a reason. Our athletic program must use the platform we have to be a catalyst for bringing our University community together.

All of these factors culminated this spring, when the Chancellor's Office, the Marching Illini, and DIA decided collectively to discontinue War Chant. For me personally, and for our University at large, it would have been far easier to maintain the status quo. But leading is not always about doing what is easy.

You can read the full letter here.

Illinois opens its season on Saturday against Ball State at noon on BTN.