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Jeff Kolpack, Published January 08 2009

Faison says he wants UND to face NDSU, but Summit commissioner cautions against it

The Summit League commissioner Tom Douple on Wednesday cautioned his members to wait until the nickname controversy at the University of North Dakota is resolved before moving into further scheduling agreements with the Fighting Sioux.

UND athletic director Brian Faison, however, doesn’t want to wait to play North Dakota State.

“The bottom line for us is this: We’re ready to play, so let’s play,” Faison said. “We’ve heard all the reasons why we can’t do this or can’t do that, and I’m referring specifically to North Dakota State. We’re ready to play, so let’s play.”

The Summit League said this week that it will make a site visit to the University of South Dakota later this month, a move that could have expansion ramifications. At the same time, Douple said he will not present information to the league’s Presidents Council on UND until the nickname issue is behind it.

“We’ve taken a stance that we want them to take care of their business – you can interpret that in scheduling,” Douple said.

NDSU, in its second year in The Summit, has already made that interpretation. Athletic director Gene Taylor said Tuesday that scheduling the Sioux would go against the wishes of the Summit.

UND is in its first year of a Division I schedule and the second year of a five-year Division I reclassification. NDSU has not played UND in most sports since the Bison moved to a Division I schedule in 2004.

Douple said he received “nasty” e-mails from UND supporters on Wednesday after his comments became public. But he also reiterated his stance that the school has to put the nickname issue behind it. The NCAA and the university reached a deal that says UND has three years to come to an agreement with the tribal councils of both the Standing Rock and Spirit Lake reservations to use the nickname by Nov. 30, 2010, or the school will retire it.

Douple said he’s had conversations with UND President Robert Kelley, and Douple believes the end is in sight with the nickname issue.

“I don’t care who you’re looking at, if there’s a very controversial issue that the university is dealing with, particularly with the NCAA, I would recommend that they solve it,” Douple said. “And I would say the logo issue is as controversial as an issue can get. Why would I want my membership to get in the middle of that?”

Said Faison: “This is one of the reasons we need to get it resolved. And a resolution doesn’t mean it disappears. It could mean the tribes come to an agreement, but we need to get to that point sooner than later.”

UND has already scheduled games with some Summit schools, such as six games with South Dakota State in baseball this spring and SDSU and Missouri-Kansas City in softball next fall. UND defeated UMKC in men’s basketball earlier this season.

Douple said the only “directive” in scheduling is in “The Summit Plan,” the league’s groundwork for the future. It says schools should not play Division I non-counters, especially in basketball. UND is a non-counter this year, but should see that status cease next year.

“I was asked by Fargo radio today if I’ve given that ‘directive,’ ” he said. “I look at it this way: If you’re taking a class and the instructor says (to) take the test in red pen, if you think what’s best for us, are you going to take the test with a red pen or pencil?

And does that include scheduling UND with a red pen?

“Before we address them, all we’re saying is, ‘Take care of it,’ ” Douple said. “Then let’s move forward.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Jeff Kolpack at (701) 241-5546.

Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found

at www.areavoices.com