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UND coaches: Nickname effects are serious, real

FARGO -- A group of University of North Dakota athletic coaches say the embattled Fighting Sioux nickname and logo will hurt their ability to recruit, damage relationships with other schools and limit opportunities for student athletes until it is retired.

Five coaches, including men's hockey coach Dave Hakstol, spoke in Fargo this morning in support of a "yes" vote on Measure 4 in the June 12 election, which would retire the nickname.

The coaches said they were hitting the campaign trail of their own volition and off UND's clock -- a key distinction because the university itself can't campaign or spend money on the election.

The UND Alumni Association, which has spearheaded the campaign against the nickname, said it paid for Tuesday's event, which will also include a stop in Bismarck later in the day and another in Minot this morning.

Head football coach Chris Mussman, women's basketball coach Travis Brewster, women's hockey coach Brian Idalski, and track and field coach Kevin Galbraith are also part of the tour, along with alumni foundation head Tim O'Keefe.

All five coaches say the nickname issue, which has made the school a target of NCAA sanctions, has had a tangible impact on their respective programs, from making it tougher to at-tract recruits to thwarted scheduling opportunities.

They said they wanted to speak out to counter claims by nickname supporters that the consequences of keeping the nickname are overblown.

Idalski said the consequences of the sanctions hit home for him when they came up while recruiting a blue-chip recruit from Canada.

"Her family called me and asked, what does this mean for us?" he said. "Their concerns were very real."

Eccher is a reporter for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.