UND discards Fighting Sioux nickname again; foes vow to keep fighting

  • Article by: NEWS SERVICES
  • Updated: June 14, 2012 - 6:52 PM

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The University of North Dakota dropped its contentious Fighting Sioux nickname for the third time Thursday, and officials expressed hope that the latest retirement -- fueled by this week's overwhelming statewide vote -- would finally stick.

The move became official when the state Board of Higher Education voted to get rid of the university's moniker and Indian head logo, which had sparked lawsuits and threats of NCAA sanctions.

Residents cast ballots Tuesday in numbers not seen in a primary election for more than five decades, and more than two-thirds favored putting the decades-old dispute to rest by dumping the name.

"It is time to move forward, and I think the voters, the citizens of North Dakota, gave us that permission," UND President Robert Kelley said. "It's my goal now to bring everyone back into the house."

While the move immediately retires the moniker used by UND athletic teams for more than 80 years, advocates for keeping it are circulating petitions to force another vote this November that would mandate the nickname under the state's constitution.

The nickname and American Indian head logo were first jettisoned in December 2010, after nickname supporters failed to meet an NCAA settlement agreement requiring approval from the state's two namesake Sioux tribes. The school was given until Aug. 15, 2011, to stop using the moniker.

The name was unretired the first time in March 2011 after state lawmakers passed a bill requiring UND to use the logo. Legislative leaders passed out T-shirts that read "Fighting Sioux: It's the law" and marched to Indianapolis to convince the NCAA to back off on threats of sanctions.

The law was repealed during a special session in November 2011 and the school, for the second time, began working on transition details, such as preserving logo history and renaming clubs, awards and scholarships. That was put on hold in February after a group of nickname supporters turned in petitions to put the issue to a vote.

"We started down this path before," Kelley said. "We will return to where we were and determine how to best move ahead."

Etc.

• Nature Valley Grand Prix bicycle race officials canceled the Cannon Falls Road Race, the third of six stages for men and women because of severe weather. The Grand Prix will resume, weather permitting, on Friday with the Uptown Minneapolis Criterium.

• Play in the U.S. Senior Open golf qualifying at Edina Country Club was suspended because of inclement weather at 6:05 p.m. Thursday and will resume Friday. Five players are tied for the lead at 1 under, but no golfer played more than nine holes.

• The WCHA will play a 28-game league schedule when the league is shuffled for the 2013-14 season, when the Big Ten and National Collegiate Hockey Conference form next year.

Alaska Anchorage, Alaska Fairbanks, Bemidji State, Bowling Green State, Ferris State, Lake Superior State, Michigan Tech, Minnesota State and Northern Michigan will play each opponent but two in home and away weekend sets.

• John Steger, who spent 11 seasons as Minnesota Duluth's defensive coordinator before departing for Southern Illinois University two years ago, is returning to the Bulldogs football coaching staff to assume his old position.

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