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Ray M. Purpur, Published May 25 2012

Let UND retire Fighting Sioux nickname, pursue excellence

The Fighting Sioux nickname must be retired so the University of North Dakota’s strong athletic tradition can continue unrestricted by NCAA sanctions that put the very future of UND’s student-athletes in danger. I strongly encourage voters to vote “yes” on Measure 4 to let UND retire the Fighting Sioux nickname.

UND’s athletic programs have gained a national reputation because of their abilities to compete with other top-tier schools, but lately that reputation has been overshadowed by the continuing controversy surrounding the Fighting Sioux nickname.

The NCAA has made it abundantly clear that should UND continue to use the nickname, it will impose sanctions against the university. I can’t stress enough how damaging those sanctions will be for the student-athletes competing for UND.

As we’ve already seen, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa, along with other universities belonging to the NCAA, don’t want to compete against a school under sanctions. The list of schools refusing to compete against UND will continue to grow if the school is forced to keep the Fighting Sioux nickname. UND’s student-athletes will have more opportunities taken away from them if voters don’t take NCAA sanctions seriously.

UND will also be prohibited from hosting postseason games. Even if UND is a top seed in the playoffs, the student-athletes will lose the privilege to compete at home. Losing those games damages the morale of student-athletes, coaches and fans.

NCAA sanctions are also hurting UND’s efforts to recruit top student-athletes and coaches because they don’t want to be at a university that can’t compete against other top-tier schools. This threatens the integrity of UND athletics and their ability to maintain nationally respected programs.

It is time to take the focus off of the Fighting Sioux nickname and put it back on the incredible student-athletes at UND.

Vote “yes” on Measure 4 and let UND retire the Fighting Sioux nickname.

Purpur is deputy director of athletics at Stanford University.