Fighting Sioux no longer
MAYVILLE -- In the end, the decision came with a shrug and a sigh. The Fighting Sioux nickname and logo, cherished symbols of UND athletic teams for nearly 80 years, must be consigned to history, the State Board of Higher Education ruled Thursday...
MAYVILLE -- In the end, the decision came with a shrug and a sigh.
The Fighting Sioux nickname and logo, cherished symbols of UND athletic teams for nearly 80 years, must be consigned to history, the State Board of Higher Education ruled Thursday.
The board directed Chancellor Bill Goetz to immediately advise UND President Robert Kelley by letter that the university should begin its transition away from the logo and nickname.
Kelley, who was at the meeting, said afterward that he plans to call the president of the Summit League today "and say that the board finally acted," clearing the way for UND's application for league membership.
UND officials called a news conference for this morning and posted on its Web site an initial piece of the planned transition: The university athletic teams will continue to be called the Sioux through the 2010-2011 school year while the school considers alternatives.
Board President Richie Smith brought up the logo issue at the end of an all-day meeting, noting that the North Dakota Supreme Court earlier Thursday had affirmed a district court ruling against logo supporters in the Spirit Lake Sioux tribe.
The board had voted in a May 2009 meeting in Dickinson to retire the Fighting Sioux nickname and logo starting Oct. 1, a deadline later extended to Nov. 30, unless the university could win approval and a 30-year commitment from the two namesake tribes.
Spirit Lake voters had OK'd continued use of the symbols in April 2009, but Standing Rock tribal officials have thus far refused to hold a referendum.
The tribes' approval was mandated by the settlement of a lawsuit UND brought against the NCAA, which considers Indian nicknames and logos abusive.
The hard-fought, four-year legal battle aroused great passions on both sides, and it was complicated by divisions within the tribes.
The wrangling came to a head in recent months as some logo supporters at Spirit Lake sought an injunction against the board dropping the nickname until arrangements could be made for a referendum or tribal council vote at Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.
A district court judge ruled against the logo supporters and threw out the injunction, and the state Supreme Court upheld the lower court's action Thursday morning.
At the start of the meeting, board member Grant Shaft of Grand Forks offered a brief update on the issue, saying that the board was still waiting for the Supreme Court to act.
The Supreme Court's opinion, essentially telling the State Board that it was free to act on the matter, caused Smith to raise the issue again at the meeting's conclusion.
Lifting the injunction put the board's 2009 action back into effect, he said, and "unless I hear a motion to reconsider, the name is dropped."
After a pause, board member Claus Lembke of Bismarck offered a motion to reconsider.
"A minority has been dictating this," Lembke said. "I feel for UND, but one way or another they need to know. ... We have given in to a minority of people on this issue."
His motion failed for lack of a second.
-- The Grand Forks Herald and The Dickinson Pressare owned by Forum Communications Co.