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Fighting Sioux Controversy Continues

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A National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) policy issued in 2005 targeted about 20 schools with Native American nicknames including the University of North Dakota (UND) Fighting Sioux. The school has until August 15 to retire the mascot deemed “offensive” by the NCAA, but state lawmakers passed a law earlier this year requiring UND to keep the logo.

If the school does opt to keep the Fighting Sioux moniker, it could cause trouble for its athletic teams according to a July 24 Associated Press story, which said the school wouldn’t be allowed to use Fighting Sioux in postseason tournaments or host any of the events.

“Potentially more damaging, the Big Sky Conference, which UND hopes to join next year, has said the issue will complicate the school's conference membership and some schools may refuse to schedule games with North Dakota,” the AP story says.

A meeting between state leaders and league and school officials is scheduled for August 12, just three days before the NCAA has said it would impost sanctions on UND for using its nickname and logo.

Those sanction include being “barred from hosting NCAA postseason games and its teams will not be able to wear the nickname and logo on its uniforms in postseason contests,” reads an April 19 Associated Press story.

North Dakota lawmakers are sticking to their guns, saying hundreds of constituents support the Fighting Sioux nickname because it is treated with respect.

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A Los Angeles Times story suggests that Congress pass a universal law to fairly solve all mascot disputes.

“Should the Fighting Sioux be ousted while the most blatantly offensive nickname in all of sports (Redskins) continues to exist? Can you imagine if we had the Wisconsin Whiteskins or the Baltimore Blackskins? Of course not. That's uncomfortable to even think about,” the Los Angeles Times writes.

UND hasn’t even begun to consider a replacement mascot either. According to the Associated Press, Rep. Al Carlson, R-Fargo, is hoping the NCAA will reconsider. But it’s doubtful the organization will do that given the history of the mascot debate.

Robert Potts, the retired chancellor at Arkansas State University and former chancellor at UND, told the Associate Press that UND should resolve the problem rather than risk “erosion” of its athletic programs.

Potts was at UND when the school took the issue to court and witnessed the change in Arkansas from the Indians to the Red Wolves.

"If the university expects to build a first-rate program in all its sports, it can't do it very well if it's treated as a pariah by a lot of other Division I programs and it can't host NCAA events," Potts told the Associated Press. "The NCAA is just too big an animal to thumb your nose at and expect to be a participant in its programs and so forth."