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COLLEGE SPORTS: University of Utah and Northern Ute Indian Tribe agree on nickname deal

University of Utah logo

UND hasn’t had a nickname for its athletic programs since 2012, the result of the school’s controversial and unsuccessful bout with the NCAA over the use of the Fighting Sioux logo. The NCAA considered UND’s use of the Fighting Sioux nickname and logo as hostile and abusive.

One other university, however, will maintain its Indian nickname.

Last week, the University of Utah and the Northern Ute Indian Tribe agreed to a new deal that allows the school’s athletic teams to continue using the name Utes.

The deal came after five years without a formal agreement in place, according to the Deseret News.

According to the Deseret News, the new agreement was reached after months of “respectful” negotiations. Northern Ute Tribe Chairman Gordon Howell said the new deal reinforces the tribe’s support for the university’s ongoing use of its name.

Utah President David W. Pershing said, “More important, (the agreement) talks about education. It talks about the relationship between the tribe and the University of Utah, and a big part of that is scholarships.”

The negotiations for the new deal came about after the Ute Tribe said the prior memorandum of understanding between the tribe and Utah didn’t adequately promote tribal human resources.

But Howell said the tribe never had the goal of forcing the school to abandon the Ute nickname.

“We’ve always been really supportive of their use of our name,” Howell said. “We are very proud that they use our name. It’s not just a name to us. We’re a very proud people.”

UND lost its decades-old nickname after it could not obtain approval for use of the Fighting Sioux logo from both Sioux tribes in the state.

At UND, however, the focus is not so much on the past use of the Fighting Sioux nickname as it is on what’s ahead regarding the school’s athletic programs and new school moniker and/or logo.

“We’re focused on our current athletic teams and looking forward to the future,” said Peter Johnson, the executive associate vice president for university relations.

UND cannot use a new nickname until January 2015.

Wayne Nelson
Nelson is the sports editor of the Herald
(701) 780-1268