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North Dakota plans to retire nickname
North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple said he will push to resume the process of retiring the controversial nickname and logo from the University of North Dakota after the NCAA reiterated its policy on Native American mascots, nicknames and imagery during a meeting here Friday.
Dalrymple and a group of state representatives had hoped to convince the NCAA to grant the school a waiver of the policy, which prohibits nicknames and imagery that are deemed hostile or abusive toward Native Americans, before facing sanctions on Aug. 15. Those sanctions would prohibit UND from hosting postseason tournaments or using its Fighting Sioux nickname and logo in any NCAA postseason events.
After Friday’s meeting, Dalrymple said it was clear that the NCAA would not alter its stance.
“It’s our understanding coming out of this meeting that the Fighting Sioux nickname and logo will be dropped,” said NCAA Vice President for Communications Bob Williams. “The contingent from North Dakota made it clear that they were committed to changing the legislative action that would require retention of the Fighting Sioux nickname and logo. However, our settlement agreement remains in effect, and, as a result, the University of North Dakota will be subject to the policy effective Aug. 15.”
The meeting was the latest in a six-year odyssey that has played out in court rooms and the floor of the North Dakota legislature. The North Dakota Board of Education was in the process of retiring the Fighting Sioux nickname over the last two years, but it was stalled by a legislative bill passed in April. The new law, which took affect Aug. 1, mandated the continued use of the Fighting Sioux nickname and placed the authority for a name change in the legislature’s hands.
At that time, Dalrymple said the school expected potential punishment would be limited to the NCAA’s postseason bans. But the Big Sky Conference said in June that continued use of the nickname would complicate UND’s future membership in the conference, which was set to begin in November. Dalrymple said the possibility of scheduling boycotts from other schools was another unforeseen consequence.
The damage incurred from a continued fight outweighed the principles driving it, he said. “I have come to the conclusion that the cost of retaining the Sioux logo is too great,” Dalrymple said. “There’s no question that the settlement agreement will stand according to the NCAA, and there will be no further negotiations.”
Dalrymple said he will ask the North Dakota legislative leadership to allow legislation to be introduced during a special session on Nov. 7 that will transfer the responsibility for the logo and nickname from the legislature back to the Board of Higher Education, which could then retire it. Dalrymple said a nickname change would also require the approval of the UND Alumni Association’s Board of Directors.