NCAA approves North Dakota nickname plan

This from Friday’s Grand Forks Herald:

The NCAA said Friday it was satisfied with the University of North Dakota’s plan to retire its Fighting Sioux nickname and logo, an important step officials say will help the university as it schedules athletic contests and works to get accepted into the Summit League.

In a Friday statement, the NCAA cited an April 8 decision by the North Dakota State Board of Higher Education to direct North Dakota President Robert Kelley to officially retire the nickname and logo.

“Therefore, North Dakota has been removed from the list of schools subject to the policy regarding Native American nicknames and imagery at NCAA championship events,” the statement said.

Athletic Director Brian Faison said Friday it was “the next step” for the NCAA after the state board’s decision earlier this year.

“We’ll be communicating that to our head coaches and be moving forward,” he said.

‘A matter of when’

Faison said the announcement resolves scheduling issues with several institutions across the country, including the University of Minnesota and University of Iowa, which would not arrange anything except hockey games (Minnesota) against North Dakota until the university was taken off the list of schools that violated the NCAA policy.

“This will open up the opportunities to schedule, and will be a big help for some of our programs,” he said.

The NCAA statement says no member institutions “should use the policy and its prior application to North Dakota as a factor in scheduling.”

UND and 17 other schools were added to the list of institutions subject to new policies in 2005 after the NCAA banned the use of American Indian nicknames and imagery it considered to be “hostile or abusive.”

That change prompted North Dakota to file a lawsuit against the NCAA, a legal fight that ended with a 2007 settlement in which the school agreed to drop its nickname and logo if unable to get support from the state’s two namesake tribes within three years.

Faison said the NCAA’s decision won’t directly affect the university’s application to the Summit League, but it could help the membership process.

“This obviously puts the official stamp of the NCAA on where we are in that transition process,” he said.

“One of the reservations we were running into was the fact that the issue had not been resolved yet,” Faison added.

He said North Dakota officials were notified earlier this month that the university had met NCAA requirements.

“Once the board took the action in the spring to direct the president to being the retirement of the nickname and logo, this was going to happen,” Faison said. “It was just a matter of when.”

NCAA approves of UND plan to retire nickname, logo