It’s as official as it can get – for now. The University of North Dakota’s Fighting Sioux nickname is dead.
Voters across North Dakota overwhelmingly gave the OK for the state to scrap the nickname, which has been deemed hostile and offensive by the NCAA.
As AP reportor Dave Kolpack reports, the fight over the Fighting Sioux has been a long one.
Voters in Tuesday’s North Dakota primary were being asked whether to uphold or reject the Legislature’s repeal of a state law requiring the school to use the nickname and American Indian head logo. The vote sends the matter back to the state’s Board of Higher Education, which is expected to retire the moniker and logo.
NCAA would have allowed the nickname to stay if two ND tribes had given the OK, but only Spirit Lake passed a resolution supporting the name, Kolpack reported.
Advocates for retiring the nickname say the issue is hurting the athletic department in recruiting and scheduling. Some fear it could affect the school’s standing in the Big Sky Conference.
Supporters of the name say coaches and administrators are exaggerating the harmful effects, including the conference threat, and don’t believe the NCAA sanctions are a big deal.
The NCAA banned UND from hosting postseason tournaments and said the school could not use the nickname or logo in postseason play, or else it must forfeit those games. The men’s hockey team wore Sioux-logo jerseys in the regular season but switched sweaters in the playoffs.
Voter Mark Kolstad, of Fargo, said he feels that the state has no choice but to let UND dump the Fighting Sioux moniker.
“I think it’s kind of dead issue,” he said. “If you keep the name and you keep the logo, who do you play?”
Will the Fighting Sioux be dead forever? We’ll have to wait until fall to see.
Sean Johnson, spokesman for the nickname group, said the results were disappointing but said they plan to continue gathering petitions for a constitutional amendment.