Sioux nickname voted top N.D. sports storyThe decision to retire UND’s controversial Fighting Sioux nickname and logo, which has existed for roughly eight decades, was voted the top story for 2010 by the North Dakota Associated Press Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association.
By: Herald Staff and Wire Reports, Grand Forks Herald
It was quite the year for the UND athletics — more so off the field than on it.
The decision to retire UND’s controversial Fighting Sioux nickname and logo, which has existed for roughly eight decades, was voted the top story for 2010 by the North Dakota Associated Press Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association.
Four of the state’s top 10 sports stories involved UND.
The Fighting Sioux nickname and logo, deemed hostile and abusive by the NCAA, was at the forefront because of the years of controversy surrounding it.
The emotional issue of retiring the Fighting Sioux nickname and logo came finally came to a head when a court ruling upheld the Board of Higher Education’s authority to retire the nickname at any time.
The board acted quickly. The university formed committees to find ways to honor the name and plan for the possible selection of a replacement. A timeline also was set for the ending of licensing agreements concerning Fighting Sioux merchandise. Beginning with the 2010-11 season, UND no longer will be known as the Fighting Sioux.
“It’s hard sitting on your hands waiting for a deliberate process to run its course, not knowing what the outcome would be,” UND President Robert Kelley said after an April Higher Ed board meeting. “Now that we have a decision from the state board, we can move ahead.”
Close behind the state’s top sports story was North Dakota State’s run through the NCAA Division I FCS football playoffs.
NDSU’s unlikely playoff run included the first-ever playoff game in the Fargodome, a road win over Montana State and a thrilling overtime loss at Big Sky Conference member Eastern Washington.
Third in the voting was the playmaking of Grand Forks twin sisters Jocelyne and Monique Lamoureux in winning hockey silver medals for the USA at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver. The twins then began their careers at UND in October, and helped elevate the women’s hockey program to a national ranking.
The No. 4 story was the accomplishments of Fargo South’s Laura Roesler, who became the most decorated prep track athlete in North Dakota history with a state-record 20 individual championships.
UND’s foray into the Big Sky Conference was No. 5.
Soon after the announcement that UND would begin the retirement process for its nickname and logo, the Summit League announced it would consider UND for conference affiliation. Instead, the school reached an 11th-hour agreement to join the Big Sky Conference in early November.
The decision to go to the Big Sky afforded UND a home for its football team, a major concern for the school as its winds its way through the painful five-year transition to full Division I status for all of its athletic programs.
Rounding out the Top 10 was the dissolution of the Dakota Athletic Conference; NDSU and UND playing men’s basketball after a six-year hiatus; Dickinson State’s softball highs and lows, including the deaths of three players; the revival of the three-class basketball debate; and Kidder County sweeping the Mr. and Miss Basketball awards.
Dickinson State defeated Black Hill State in the final Dakota Athletic Conference football game. The league was decimated by defections over the past few years, leaving it with too few to remain a viable conference. Dickinson State has applied to join the Frontier Conference. Jamestown College is considering a move to the Frontier as well.
The revival of the men’s basketball rivalry between NDSU and UND occurred in December in the Fargodome, for the first time since 2004. The teams were tied at halftime before NDSU pulled away for an 81-55 victory. The teams will play again next season in Grand Forks, but beyond that, no future games have yet been scheduled.
Dickinson State’s women’s softball team reached the NAIA national tournament, capping a season that included the deaths of three players who drowned in a livestock pond while on a stargazing trip.
The latest attempt to set up a three-class system for North Dakota high school basketball and volleyball suffered yet another resounding defeat. And in March, Adam Randall and Eli Benz won the Mr. and Miss Basketball awards, making Kidder County the first Class B school to sweep the awards in the same season.