A Bit of Mourning for the Chief is Appropriate
This article gives a sense of the feeling surrounding the issue. Here's a snippet.
Shaun Gaston, 60, of Champaign, recalled her parents taking her to Dyche Stadium in Evanston to see the Chief perform at a UI-Northwestern game when she was 5 years old.
"My mother had tears in her eyes when he came out. I came to school here. I had the dance down so if they ever needed a sub, I'd be ready. It's a revered symbol, a tradition, an honor. It's not a mascot. I do not want to see a mascot – ever," she said, adding she never leaves the seat she's had for 30 years at basketball games when the Chief appears.