- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The National Collegiate Athletic Association yesterday denied an appeal by the University of North Dakota to keep the Fighting Sioux nickname without restrictions, setting up a potential legal battle over the Indian mascot issue.

University of North Dakota President Charles Kupchella said he would consider bringing the issue before “a court of law if necessary” after the NCAA refused to remove the university from a list of schools subject to post-season limits on their Indian mascots or images.

“Obviously, we do not agree with the decision, and we will continue to press our case through all of the levels of review and beyond as necessary,” Mr. Kupchella said yesterday.

The NCAA’s ruling hinged on the lack of support from state’s three Sioux tribes.

The Standing Rock Sioux and the Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux have stated their opposition to the Fighting Sioux nickname. The third tribe, the Spirit Lake Sioux, did not respond to requests for information from the NCAA, but tribal secretary Brian Pearson told The Washington Times that most council members oppose the logo.

“Although the University of North Dakota maintained that its logo and nickname are used with consummate respect, the position of the namesake tribes and those affected by the hostile or abusive environment that the nickname and logo create take precedence … even when others may not agree,” the NCAA staff review committee said in a statement.

Mr. Kupchella bristled at the committee’s use of the phrase “hostile or abusive” to describe the university’s climate on Indian relations, pointing out that the school enrolls 400 Indian students and offers a broad range of educational programs for American Indian students and those interested in Indian history and culture.

“We must press our case, because to let the charge of hostile and abusive stand would have a chilling effect to prospective faculty, staff and, most importantly, prospective American Indian students we are here to serve,” Mr. Kupchella said.

The NCAA entered the Indian mascot debate Aug. 4 when it released a list of 18 schools that had “hostile or abusive” Indian nicknames. Florida State University, Central Michigan University and the University of Utah were removed from the list after submitting statements from their namesake tribes in support of the names.

Mr. Kupchella argued that those universities, despite their “special relationship” with their tribes, have fewer Indian students and Indian programs than North Dakota.


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