Dale Wetzel of the Bismarck Tribune reports that the NCAA will not allow a new North Dakota state law to keep the University of North Dakota (UND) from being penalized for continuing to use their Fighting Sioux moniker which the NCAA considers hostile to American Indians.
The new law stated that the school must use the nickname and logo. Wetzel reports that NCAA executive vice president, Bernard Franklin, has stated that the law “cannot change the NCAA policy” against using American Indian logos, nicknames, or mascots that are considered offensive. Franklin wrote a letter to UND President Robert Kelly telling him the university must follow the agreement it made in October 2007 to stop using the logo and nickname by August 15, 2011, unless it received approval from the North Dakota’s Spirit Lake and Standing Rock Sioux tribes.
The two tribes do not see eye to eye on the issue, with the Spirit Lake tribal members endorsing the nickname and logo in a referendum and the Standing Rock Sioux tribal council opposing it.
Franklin’s letter to UND means that the school will be subject to NCAA sanctions after the new law takes affect in August, barring them from hosting NCAA postseason games and keeping the team from using their nickname and logo on their uniforms in postseason games.
With the flurry of recent activity over the issue, the NCAA wanted to bring clarity to their position, stating that the state law “cannot change the NCAA policy nor alter the contracted terms of the agreement,” Franklin told the Bismarck Tribune.
The legislation was sponsored by state Rep. Al Carlson, R-Frago, who is the Republican majority leader in the North Dakota House, and it was approved in both the House and the Senate by a wide margin, and then signed by Gov. Jack Dalrymple last month.
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