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Heath Hotzler, Published December 30 2007

UND nickname is hot topic

After years of heated debate and legal wrangling, the University of North Dakota’s Fighting Sioux nickname issue finally received an expiration date in 2007.

UND’s surprising settlement with the NCAA was chosen by readers – through online voting – The Forum’s top hot-button sports story for 2007.

The story was a runaway winner, topping the cancellation of the 86-year old football game between crosstown rivals Minnesota State University Moorhead and Concordia by 41 votes.

UND reached a settlement in October to discontinue the use of the Fighting Sioux nickname and logo in three years if it can not get approval from both of the state’s Sioux tribes.

Under the agreement, the school will be able to host postseason events over the three years, but it must take steps to transition to a new name and logo by Aug. 15, 2011.

The NCAA also released a public statement about UND, saying that although it believes American Indian names and imagery can create hostile and abusive environments, it didn’t make any findings about the Grand Forks campus.

The NCAA and UND were at odds over the issue since the NCAA listed the school among 18 in the country with mascots or nicknames considered “hostile or abusive.”

Schools on the list were barred from hosting NCAA playoff games.

UND sued the NCAA over the ruling.

The legal fight cost more than $2 million in legal fees and expenses, making one of the most expensive court cases in North Dakota history, according to Judge Lawrence Jahnke.

Since the agreement, representatives of the Standing Rock and Spirit Lake tribes have re-affirmed their opposition to the nickname and logo.

“We are not going to be fighting this fight in 10 years and in 20 years and in 30 years,” North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said in October following the board of education’s approval of the settlement. “This is an issue that needs to be resolved and be concluded.”

Hot-button issues

Below are the five stories that were considered for The Forum’s hot-button sports story for 2007:

1. Sioux settlement approved

UND reaches an agreement with the NCAA to discontinue use of Fighting Sioux nickname and logo if tribal approval isn’t received in three years.

2. Rivalry powers down

The 86-year old Power Bowl football game between MSUM and Concordia is put on hold for at least two years.

3. Park Board votes to accept arena

Fargo Park Board votes 5-0 to accept the $25 million Urban Plains Center hockey arena as a gift from developer Ace Brandt and the Metro Sports Foundation.

4. Northern League shrinks to six

Citing irreconcilable differences, Calgary and Edmonton announce plans to leave the Northern League.

5. NDSCS disputes phone bill

A men’s basketball player racks up more than $46,000 in telephone charges using a school-issued phone card.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Heath Hotzler at (701) 241-5562.

Hotzler’s small college blog can be found at www.areavoices.com

UND nickname is hot topic Heath Hotzler 20071230