The Fighting Illini’s “war chant” is no more.
Ten years after the University of Illinois voted to ban the Chief Illiniwek mascot, the chant — which some have seen as offensive — will no longer be part of home games at Memorial Stadium in Champaign, a spokesman for the athletic department said Friday.
“The last three or four [administrations], we’ve had discussions and concerns about the use of the war chant,” said Kent Brown, a U. of I. athletic department spokesman.
“As we moved forward, we saw this as an opportunity to be more inclusive at our events. If it did offend people, it was a great opportunity to make a change.”
Brown said the decision to have the university band not play the drum cadence — typically done when opponents are facing a third-down situation — is only partly about cultural sensitivity.
In recent years, Brown said, fans have reacted with more enthusiasm to prompts from the stadium video board.
The war chant made an appearance during a university soccer match Thursday, after students brought a drum into Illinois Soccer Stadium, Brown said. The students were asked to stop the chant, Brown said. But unlike at soccer events, fans are forbidden from bringing noise makers into Memorial Stadium for football games.
The football team’s first home game is Saturday, Sept. 2 against Ball State.