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Published May 05 2012

Forum editorial: Real cost of UND logo spat

The grumbling among a few legislators about the $46,000 cost of the University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux nickname dispute misses the point. The cost of the unnecessary battle to retain or retire the nickname – monetary and otherwise – is far greater.

A comprehensive total would have to include not only direct legal costs but also indirect costs associated with university personnel time, resources and even travel. It would have to include the hours wasted by the Legislature on the issue. It would have to include the time and energy misused by members of the state Board of Higher Education. It would have to include the costs associated with a ballot measure and the several court sessions devoted to the issue. It would have to include the lingering damage to the school’s image and the state’s reputation.

In that light, $46,000 (and counting) is pocket change. In that light, the utter foolishness of the Legislature’s malfeasance and the governor’s refusal to veto initial save-the-nickname legislation comprise a policy and principle failure of historic proportions.

Two developments last week put the nickname/logo issue into sharper focus. First, a federal court tossed out a lawsuit by American Indian supporters of the logo, who asked the court to overturn the NCAA’s anti-logo policy. In effect, the judge said the plaintiffs did not have standing in the issue, and that such an action could only be brought by UND. It does not get much clearer than that.

The second development was an announcement by the UND Alumni Association that it was mounting a well-funded campaign for a “yes” vote on Measure 4, which asks voters to either scrap or retain the logo. The association, which has been reluctant to abandon the logo, looked at the situation as dispassionately as possible and concluded correctly that holding on to the logo would do irreparable harm to the university and its athletic programs.

Still, ardent supporters of retaining the troublesome imagery don’t get it. The handwriting on the wall is bold and clear. Yet, some supporters don’t believe what’s before their eyes. Apparently, they would rather pursue a personal and destructive agenda rather than do the right thing for the school they say they love.

It makes no sense. But very little of the way this issue has unfolded since the Legislature disserved its constituents has made sense.

Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper’s Editorial Board.