Fighting Sioux backers finish petition workBISMARCK — Supporters of the University of North Dakota's Fighting Sioux nickname are finishing their petition campaign Tuesday night.
By: DALE WETZEL , The Associated Press
BISMARCK — Is it the return of the Fighting Sioux? Supporters of the University of North Dakota's nickname turned in about 16,000 signatures Tuesday night to cap a petition drive to force a statewide vote on a moniker the NCAA says is insulting to American Indians.
Campaign organizers said they had gathered far more than the 13,452 signatures needed to put a question before voters in June. Secretary of State Al Jaeger planned to count the signatures Wednesday.
If Jaeger determines organizers have enough signatures, he said the petitions alone would be enough to temporarily revive a law that requires UND teams to be known as the Fighting Sioux.
The name and an American Indian head logo have already been scrubbed from university websites and removed from some school team uniforms to head off NCAA sanctions, which include a ban on hosting postseason games or fielding teams in postseason play with the logo or nickname on uniforms.
Faced with the probable signature-gathering success by Fighting Sioux supporters, university officials and members of the state Board of Higher Education said Tuesday they had no plans to immediately restore the nickname.
The measure does not include any penalty if UND or the board ignores its directive, and Rep. Al Carlson, R-Fargo, the Republican majority leader in the North Dakota House and chief sponsor of the legislation, said he did not support one.
“I love the Fighting Sioux but I don't see that as an issue worth fighting over,” Carlson said. “I don't see that we should be running penalties up.”