N.D. higher ed board won't actively fight proposed UND Sioux nickname legislationThe North Dakota Board of Higher Education won’t actively fight legislation proposed in the Legislature that would keep UND’s Fighting Sioux nickname. Open the article to see House Majority Leader Al Carlson talk about the legislation.
By: Tu-Uyen Tran, Grand Forks Herald
The North Dakota Board of Higher Education won’t actively fight legislation proposed in the Legislature that would keep UND’s Fighting Sioux nickname.
During a conference call Thursday, board members voted to stay neutral on the three proposed bills on UND keeping the nickname, but said they would testify on how they arrived at their decision.
Board President Jon Backes and board member Claus Lembke said they had heard lawmakers sponsoring the bills complaining that the board had rushed into the decision.
Several issues would seem to constrain state lawmakers, which board members noted.
One is the settlement with the NCAA that had required UND to win approval from both the state’s Sioux tribes to retain the nickname. Only one tribe, the Spirit Lake tribe near Devils Lake, chose to vote on the nickname.
Board member Michael Haugen said he worried about the reaction by the NCAA. “UND needs the NCAA. It’s not the NCAA needing UND,” he said.
UND President Robert Kelley, who was traveling to meet with NCAA officials, said he hasn’t heard their reaction yet, but would find out soon.
The other issue is the state constitution giving direct control of the university system to the board, rather than to lawmakers. North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem told lawmakers that, too.
But Lembke said he spoke with Rep. Al Carlson, R-Fargo, who told him he there will be a bill on the Sioux nickname regardless.
Board member Grant Shaft of Grand Forks was assigned to speak for the board when the bills get their first hearing in the North Dakota House Education Committee.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.