SBD/March 14, 2011/Colleges

North Dakota Senate Passes Fighting Sioux Nickname Bill; Governor To Sign

UND President says school still intends to retire logo unless told otherwise
The North Dakota state Senate Friday voted 28-15 with four absences to approve legislation ordering the Univ. of North Dakota "to retain its controversial Fighting Sioux nickname and Indian-head logo," according to Chuck Haga of the GRAND FORKS HERALD. The bill, which earlier passed in the state House, "goes now to Gov. Jack Dalrymple, who said he will sign it." Dalrymple said, "The ball is now in the court of the NCAA, and that's what the people want: Take action or not take action." NCAA Dir of Public & Media Relations Erik Christianson said the bill is a "state issue," adding the NCAA's policy against the use of American Indian nicknames or logos "remains unchanged." Haga reported the bill directs North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem "to consider suing the NCAA if the athletics association again threatens sanctions against the university." Stenehjem sued the NCAA when the school was told it "would lose the right to host post-season championships or participate in post-season play wearing Fighting Sioux insignia if it did not comply" with the NCAA's rule.  UND President Robert Kelley, through a spokesperson, said the school will "continue to follow the bill as it makes its way to the governor, and we'll continue to follow the direction" of the North Dakota State Board of Higher Education. Haga noted both Kelley and UND AD Brian Faison have "spoken against the nickname bill, saying it posed potentially serious problems for the university, its athletic program and student athletes" (GRAND FORKS HERALD, 3/12). Kelley said that the school "will follow the board's earlier order to retire the logo and nickname in August, unless it gets new directions from the board" (AP, 3/12).

BILL PUTS SCHOOL AT RISK: In North Dakota, Tom Dennis wrote the nickname bill "puts UND athletics at risk -- maybe serious risk." And that puts the "health and strength of the university at risk." Dennis: "It's not about the nickname, in other words. It's about the NCAA, and the sanctions that the NCAA may impose on UND if North Dakota breaks the settlement agreement to 3 1/2 years ago" (GRAND FORKS HERALD, 3/12).
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