INDIANAPOLIS – The University of North Dakota took its fight over the school’s nickname straight to NCAA President Mark Emmert on Friday.
And still lost.
After meeting for more than an hour, Emmert told a group of state legislators and school officials he would not compromise on a court-imposed settlement to change the school nickname from Fighting Sioux by Monday’s deadline. The school now faces a ban from hosting NCAA tournaments and will not be allowed to use the nickname or logo at NCAA tourney games until it makes the change.
State legislators will now do what they can to help the school comply.
Gov. Jack Dalrymple said he will introduce legislation Nov. 7 that will give school officials the authority to change the nickname, essentially repealing an April law. Dalrymple said he expects that bill to pass and the school to change the name.
Keeping the name, Dalrymple said, would prove too costly.
In addition to NCAA-imposed sanctions, other schools already have threatened to keep North Dakota off their schedules and the Big Sky Conference, which the school hopes to join next fall, has told North Dakota that its conference affiliation could be jeopardized without a resolution.
“Based on that, the consequences of not changing the Sioux logo are too great,” Dalrymple said.
Before the name can change, it must also be approved by the board of directors of the alumni association, which Dalrymple said already has signed petitions to do so.
While Emmert and executive vice president Bernard Franklin listened to the arguments, they refused to bend in their quest to end a fight that has lasted half a decade and has weaved its way through the courts and the state legislature.
The fight began in 2006 when the NCAA placed North Dakota on a list of 19 schools with American Indian nicknames, logos and mascots it deemed to be “hostile and abusive.” The university then filed suit against the NCAA, and in October 2007, a court-imposed settlement required school officials to retire the nickname on Aug. 15, 2011, unless the state’s two namesake tribes approved its use. The Spirit Lake Sioux tribe has endorsed using the nickname and logo, but The Standing Rock Sioux’s tribal council refused to change its long-standing opposition.