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By Chuck Haga, Forum Communications Co., Published January 26 2011

UND president repeats denial that he asked Summit League to publicly criticize nickname

BISMARCK - University of North Dakota President Robert Kelley repeated this morning his denial that he ever asked Summit League Commissioner Tom Douple to publicly come out against accepting the Fighting Sioux as a league member until the school's controversial nickname issue was resolved.

"Tom has been very consistent with me that once we resolved the logo issue, the Summit League would review our appeal,' Kelley said today as he waited for the House Education Committee to begin hearings on three bills that would require UND to retain the nickname and logo.

"I am very surprised to find Tom thought there was pressure put on him to speak out on this issue," Kelley said.

"There has been some urgency on our part to get this resolved. I think he felt some urgency on our part. But I don't recall every putting pressure on Tom as he implied."

Kelley said he has not spoken with Douple about the commissioner's statement.

"I have not had any conversations with Tom since our acceptance into the Big Sky Conference in November," he said.

"I can't speculate on where this is coming from or why at this time."

Kelley also said he "can't speculate on what he might have understood," or whether Douple may have heard something from someone else at UND.

"I have the highest respect for Tom, and I thought he understood perfectly that this (retirement of the logo) was the responsibility of the state board, and once it was resolved we would be able to move forward.

"My responsibility is to move ahead, and that's what we're doing."