We asked some of the 39 men who portrayed Chief Illiniwek: What was your funniest, most forgettable experience while wearing the beaded buckskin?
Here’s Chief No. 32, Scott Brakenridge, who since 2013 has served as an assistant professor of surgery at the University of Florida:
“During a performance at one of the men’s basketball games, my belt was a little too loose and the chaps/pants slowly started to slide down off my hips a bit. The cuffs slide down just enough that during a sharp turn right at the end of the performance, they came down enough for my heel to step on the leather, and I slipped and fell.
“I caught myself on my arm and popped right back up to finish the performance. I’ll never forget the cringing chorus of oooooh from the crowd as I slipped, but the cheers they gave after the recovery made up for it.
“Unfortunately, the Illini lost. Later that night, I was watching ‘SportsCenter’ on ESPN, and, of course, there was a clip of me taking a spill with the cheeky announcer comment of ‘the Illini slipped tonight.’”