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Complete disclosure: Nickname controversy doesn't hinder North Dakota coaches on recruiting trail
UND football coaches are in the midst of their spring recruiting, a time when they search for future Sioux standouts.
While no imminent end to the Fighting Sioux nickname and logo controversy appears to be in sight, that doesn’t mean UND coaches are ignoring it on the recruiting trail.
“We explain where we are on the issue and the history behind the name and logo,” UND coach Chris Mussman said. “We keep recruits updated.”
And the controversy hasn’t damaged football recruiting to this point.
“It’s never been a negative,” Mussman said.
Negative recruiting from other athletic programs was one concern after the North Dakota Legislature recently passed a law mandating UND keep its Fighting Sioux nickname and logo.
The Legislature’s action came in defiance of a negotiated settlement between the NCAA and the state board of higher education that would have effectively ended UND’s use of the Fighting Sioux nickname and logo in August of this year.
As long as UND keeps the nickname, the Sioux football team won’t be able to host an NCAA home playoff game. That’s one of the penalties the NCAA will enforce as long as UND maintains the nickname.
However, UND won’t be eligible for NCAA postseason play until 2012 — the year it also joins the Big Sky Conference. As has been the case, a lot could transpire in the controversy between now and 2012.
Also, the Sioux nickname and logo will not be allowed on any UND uniform during NCAA-sponsored postseason tournaments.
But that shouldn’t be much of a problem for the football program.
“We’ve identified our program with the interlocking ND,” Mussman said. “Uniform-wise, it’s not an issue.”
Outside of Minnesota, the nickname so far hasn’t affected UND’s ability to schedule games.
And scheduling became much easier for UND football in November of last year. That’s when the Big Sky accepted UND. Only a handful of games need to be scheduled through the 2014 season.
Also, the Big Sky hasn’t had much reaction to the fact that UND is keeping its nickname and logo for at least another year.
UND athletic director Brian Faison said Big Sky Commissioner Doug Fullerton is aware of what’s happening in the state.
“Doug is certainly watching what’s going and he’s very knowledgeable of the situation,” Faison said. “And we talk to him periodically. So far, the league has been very supportive of the institution and we continue to look forward of becoming a full member in 2012.”
Also, the nickname controversy does not appear to be deal-breaking in regards to UND joining the league.
“That has not been a topic of discussion to this point,” Faison said. “And I don’t anticipate it will be.”
By Wayne Nelson, Grand Forks Herald