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Amy Dalrymple, Forum News Service, Published January 14 2011

Board of Higher Education neutral on bills seeking to retain Sioux nickname

The North Dakota Board of Higher Education won’t actively fight legislation proposed in the Legislature that would keep the University of North Dakota “Fighting Sioux” nickname.

During a conference call meeting Thursday, higher education board members also unanimously decided to provide legislators information about the process used to retire the Fighting Sioux nickname.

Board members said they would remain neutral on three bills introduced by legislators related to retaining the nickname at UND.

Board President Jon Backes said he preferred to allow legislators to work through their process.

“Let them have their debate,” said Backes, of Minot.

Board member Grant Shaft of Grand Forks was asked to provide legislators with a summary of the steps taken before members directed UND to begin retiring the nickname.

Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem has said there are constitutional issues with the bills because the board has the constitutional authority to direct UND to retire the nickname.

Board member Michael Haugen of Fargo said he’s worried about unintended consequences for UND, its athletic teams and its Native American students.

UND President Robert Kelley said he plans to talk to the NCAA about the bills.

In other business:

Readers can reach Forum reporter Amy Dalrymple at (701) 241-5590