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NCAA rejects North Dakota nickname appeal

'Fighting Sioux' still remains on list of banned names

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The North Dakota Fighting Sioux will remain on the list of college nicknames the NCAA doesn't want used in postseason play.

The university's appeal was rejected by an NCAA review committee because it did not have the support of the three federally recognized Sioux tribes of North Dakota, the association said Wednesday.

"Although the University of North Dakota maintained that its logo and nickname are used with consummate respect, the position of the namesake tribes and those affected by the hostile or abusive environment that the nickname and logo create take precedence," NCAA vice president Bernard Franklin said.

North Dakota President Charles Kupchella said he would appeal the decision to the NCAA's executive committee and, if that fails, seek legal action against the NCAA.

North Dakota was among 18 schools barred last month from using Native American mascots, logos and nicknames in postseason tournaments. Florida State, Central Michigan and Utah were later exempted because of their support by local tribes.

"It is not at all obvious to us why the NCAA finds the nicknames Chippewas, Seminoles and Utes worthy of exceptions, but somehow Sioux is deemed hostile and abusive," Kupchella said. "We must press our case, because to let the charge of hostile and abusive stand would have a chilling effect to prospective faculty, staff and, most importantly, prospective American Indian students we are here to serve."

In North Dakota, however, the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and the Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux tribe opposed the Fighting Sioux nickname and imagery, and the Spirit Lake tribe did not respond to an NCAA request to clarify its position, Franklin said.

North Dakota will be allowed to host the Men's Division I ice hockey regional in March because of its prior contract but will be barred from hosting future NCAA events.

"This decision was made because it is not reasonable to cover up or remove all of the Native American imagery in the arena," Franklin said.

Kupchella said the university has "no choice but to pursue an appeal."

"Even those here opposed to the use of the nickname on campus recognize that UND offers perhaps the best opportunity for many American Indian students to get an education," he said. "I would also note that the schools exempted thus far have been exempted on the basis of a 'special relationship' with American Indian tribes, yet our proportionate number of American Indian students and the number of substantive programs in support of American Indian students exceeds that of all of the exempted schools combined."