State Law Won't Protect UND From NCAA Penalties For Using Fighting Sioux Nickname
NCAA Exec VP/Membership & Student-Athlete Affairs Bernard Franklin yesterday said that a “new state law that orders the University of North Dakota to keep its Fighting Sioux nickname won't shield the school from penalties for continuing to use a moniker the NCAA considers hostile to American Indians,” according to Dale Wetzel of the AP. The law states that UND “must use the nickname and a logo featuring the profile of an American Indian warrior." But Franklin said the law “cannot change the NCAA policy" against using American Indian nicknames, logos or mascots that are considered offensive. In a letter to UND President Robert Kelley, Franklin said that the university “must follow an agreement it made in October 2007 to discontinue using the nickname and logo by Aug. 15, 2011, unless it received approval from North Dakota's Spirit Lake and Standing Rock Sioux tribes.” The Standing Rock Sioux's tribal council, which has “long opposed the nickname, has declined to change its stand.” Wetzel noted Franklin's letter means UND “will be subject to NCAA sanctions after the new law takes effect in August.” According to NCAA policy, the school “will be barred from hosting NCAA postseason games and its teams will not be able to wear the nickname and logo on its uniforms in postseason contests” (AP, 4/19). In North Dakota, Chuck Haga notes “backers of the new state law had expressed confidence that such a declaration by the state, coupled with passage of a pro-nickname referendum on the Spirit Lake Sioux Reservation and evidence of support on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, could persuade the NCAA to modify its position” (GRAND FOLKS HERALD, 4/20).