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Approve Measure 4 so we can save UND
When North Dakota residents decide Measure 4 on the June 12 ballot, they will be determining the immediate fate of the University of North Dakota’s “Fighting Sioux” nickname.
A “yes” vote would allow UND to discontinue the Fighting Sioux nickname and logo. A “no” vote would require UND to continue using the nickname and logo.
While it’s certainly understandable that nickname supporters have a tremendous sense of school pride, is it really worth possibly losing conference affiliation and continuing to face immense pressure from the NCAA to discontinue the nickname?
If North Dakota voters decide to keep the nickname, this issue won’t go away. The NCAA will remain relentless in its efforts to discontinue the nickname.
And the reality that nickname supporters must face is that UND needs the NCAA much more than the NCAA needs UND. The Fighting Sioux are a small fish in a very large NCAA pond.
Take men’s basketball for example, in which UND is one of 327 Division I programs. Or football, in which UND is one of 244 Division I programs (124 in the Football Championship Subdivision.)
Potentially losing conference affiliation, as some reports have indicated that UND would with its upcoming move to the Big Sky, would be devastating to a school that just made the transition from Division II to Division I athletics five years ago.
A school like Notre Dame University generates the necessary revenue and can afford to be independent, as it is in football. UND does not have that luxury, as going independent would force the school to schedule opponents potentially very far from Grand Forks.
Losing conference affiliation also means UND athletic teams would not receive automatic bids into postseason tournaments if they successfully won their conference — postseason tournaments that are large revenue-generators for Division I schools.
They would also lose out on hosting postseason games, which UND Alumni Association and Foundation CEO Tim O’Keefe said could generate millions of dollars for Grand Forks through hospitality and retail sales dollars. This stems from an August 2005 ban issued by the NCAA stating that all 18 schools with American Indian logos and mascots would no longer be able to host postseason tournaments.
And while this is not purely an athletics issue, it’s no secret that athletics are certainly a driving force behind it because of the dollars and cents associated with any Division I program.
Beyond just that, it’s simply time to put the nickname controversy to rest. The headaches associated with maintaining the nickname simply are not worth the trouble.
O’Keefe stated the foundation’s support for a “yes” vote last month.
“It’s not about preference any more. It’s about the price UND will pay if we are forced to keep the nickname,” O’Keefe said at a May 1 press conference in Bismarck.
He’s absolutely correct — maintaining the nickname does more harm than good.
For the good of the future for the University of North Dakota, eliminate the Fighting Sioux nickname by voting “yes” on Measure 4.
Editorial, Jamestown Sun