North Dakota residents yesterday voted by a 2-1 margin "overwhelmingly favoring a ballot measure" that would allow the Univ. of North Dakota "to say goodbye" to the school's Fighting Sioux nickname, according to Chuck Haga of the GRAND FORKS HERALD. While results are unofficial, votes for a ballot measure allowing the school to drop the name "topped the 'no' vote" by 67.4% to 32.62%. Grand Forks County, which includes UND, voted 70.4% to 29.6% to drop the name. Sioux County, home to the Standing Rock Sioux Nation, also voted for the initiative. The vote turnout there was "surprisingly low, given the importance nickname supporters had placed on giving Standing Rock people a voice in the long-running dispute." Sean Johnson, a spokesperson for the group that sought the nickname referendum, blamed a "lot of false fears generated by the foundation," a reference to the UND Alumni Association & Foundation. That group "took the lead in encouraging a vote to allow UND to retire the nickname." The alumni groups and other organizations claimed that keeping the name "could severely damage UND because of NCAA sanctions." Haga notes while it is uncertain "whether nickname supporters will push for another vote, two federal lawsuits involve the Fighting Sioux nickname, one by Indian students at UND who oppose its use, the other by the Spirit Lake Nation against the NCAA on behalf of the school" (GRAND FORKS HERALD, 6/13). The vote "sends the matter back to the state's Board of Higher Education, which is expected to retire the moniker and American Indian head logo." However, the group that "collected petitions for the ballot measure has said it will pursue another vote in the fall to make Fighting Sioux part of the state constitution." Advocates for retitring the nickname claim that the issue "is hurting the athletic department in recruiting and scheduling." Some even fear it "could affect the school's standing in the Big Sky Conference" (AP, 6/12).
The Univ. of Michigan's plan to honor legendary football players "by having current players wear their jerseys will continue this season," with three more former players joining Desmond Howard in the honor, according to Mark Snyder of the DETROIT FREE PRESS. The numbers for former President Gerald Ford (48), Bennie Oosterbaan (47) and Ron Kramer (87) all have been retired, but the families gave UM the "blessing to reintroduce them in memory of the deceased legends." It is unknown which players will wear the jerseys, which will have the "same upper left chest area patch that was affixed to the No. 21 jersey" worn by WR Junior Hemingway last year. Oosterbaan will be honored at UM's Sept. 8 game, Kramer on Sept. 15 and Ford Oct. 13 (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 6/13). In Detroit, Angelique Chengalis reports Ford, Kramer and Oosterbaan will be featured in UM's Schembechler Hall, and the "lockers to be used by No. 47, No. 48 and No. 87 in both the Schembechler Hall and Michigan Stadium locker rooms will reflect that all three are designated as Michigan Football Legends" (DETROIT NEWS, 6/13). ANNARBOR.com's Nicole Baumgardner notes UM has two other retired football numbers -- Tom Harmon's No. 98 and the No. 11 worn by Francis, Albert and Alvin Wistert -- though UM AD Dave Brandon said that he "has yet to discuss the 'Legend' topic with either the Harmon or Wistert familiy" (ANNARBOR.com, 6/12). ESPN’s Jesse Palmer said UM football coach Brady Hoke “does such a good job of motivating this team," and having players wear retired numbers “is a great example.” ESPN's Brock Huard said of Hoke, "He understands what Michigan football is all about, and it’s just kind of nice to see Michigan back, to see them relevant again” (“College Football Live,” ESPN2, 6/12).
KEEPING IT REAL: The DETROIT FREE PRESS' Snyder wrote UM banning football players from using Twitter "isn't realistic." Hoke said, "You can ban, then are you teaching guys responsibility just because you're banning? What's the lesson? We want them to grow and understand, and (the media) know more than I do with Twitter and all that stuff. I think there's a maturity that goes along with it." The issue was raised after UM recruit Logan Tuley-Tillman posted a photo on Twitter of him "burning his OSU recruiting letter" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 6/9).
The Univ. of Florida Athletic Association yesterday "passed a budget of about $97.6 million" for the '12-13 school year -- "slightly above last year's proposed budget," according to David Jones of FLORIDA TODAY. But a sign of concern "is a decline of season ticket sales in football." Despite "selling over 1,200 season tickets in recent weeks the school is about 250 below last year's total at the same time but still over the 50,000 mark." UF is "concerned enough, however, to start the campaign that included TV ads and emails to area businesses plus city and county organizations to allow 'some people who didn't realize tickets were available.'" The budget for the new school year "projects more than $1 million in lost revenue from luxury seat sales for football." But a $3 per ticket "increase in ticket prices for the upcoming season more than covers the losses." The athletic department is "giving back $6 million to the school for the third straight year." UF will receive "a projected $33.8 million from Gator Boosters Inc., in the coming year but also get about $16.5 million from the [Southeastern Conference] through bowls, television and championships." An additional "$22 million-plus is expected from football ticket sales tied to required donations" (FLORIDA TODAY, 6/13).
GATOR-AID: In Gainesville, Nathan Crabbe notes UF's recent marketing campaign "is meant to fight the misconception that there is a season ticket waiting list." UF Athletic Association officials said that they are "working against the trend of fans staying home in a tough economy to watch high-definition broadcasts, something happening in all of sports." UF's 137-game home sellout streak "was snapped last season as three home games weren't sellouts." Association officials "dismissed the connection to the team's struggles on the field, instead attributing it to opposing teams returning a larger than usual number of unsold tickets" (GAINESVILLE SUN, 6/13).
The upcoming College World Series will introduce instant replay, but for now, only “an umpire's call on whether a home run really is a home run will be subject to video review," according to Eric Olson of the AP. Umpires at the CWS, which starts Friday, “will be limited to reviewing whether a batted ball has cleared the fence, gone foul or if a fan has interfered.” NCAA VP/Football & Baseball Dennis Poppe yesterday said, "Let's walk before we run. Let's make sure we have down the crucial issues, and there probably is no more crucial issue than the home run." Poppe said that instant replay “couldn't be used in the regular season or regionals because not all games are televised.” Though super regionals are televised, some stadiums “don't have easily accessible areas where umpires can review video.” ESPN provides “more than a dozen camera angles at the CWS,” and 2-year-old TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha “easily accommodates a review area.” UCLA coach John Savage said that he “wouldn't want the use of instant replay expanded beyond home-run calls.” Savage: "We shouldn't use it for balls and strikes or safe or out. If we used it for everything, it would slow the game down too much. But I think the way they want to use it is fair, and in the end they all want to get it right." Olson noted the use of instant replay “will be left to the discretion of the umpire crew chief and must occur before the next pitch or play.” There “won't be a formal ‘coaches challenge’ opportunity, though under college rules coaches are able to request a conference among umpires” (AP, 6/12). In Omaha, Jon Nyatawa noted if the umpires decide to use video to review a home run at this year’s CWS, “it would be a first for those involved.” There “haven’t been any trial runs,” and there is “no hands-on experimentation.” (OMAHA.com, 6/12).