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Dalrymple says UND, state need to get moving on nickname issue

Gov. Jack Dalrymple said here Monday that UND and North Dakota "need to get on with this" Fighting Sioux nickname issue, but he doesn't see himself playing a significant role right now.

North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple

Gov. Jack Dalrymple said here Monday that UND and North Dakota "need to get on with this" Fighting Sioux nickname issue, but he doesn't see himself playing a significant role right now.

"I'm still trying to discern what I can do to help," he said. "I'd like to have better information" about where the NCAA stands with regard to possible consequences for UND if the nickname and logo are not retired this summer.

Dalrymple said it remains unclear to him whether the athletics association contemplates penalties beyond the restrictions on post-season play spelled out in a 2007 legal settlement.

UND is caught between an NCAA mandate against the use of American Indian names and imagery and an act adopted by the 2011 Legislature ordering UND to retain the popular symbols.

The state law, which Dalrymple signed, goes into effect Aug. 1, and UND President Robert Kelley has said the university will comply with the law.


That will put the school officially in noncompliance with the NCAA policy as of Aug. 15, subjecting the university to sanctions. Those include barring UND teams from hosting post-season competitions or fielding athletes wearing proscribed names or imagery.

The NCAA also indicated at the time the policy was adopted that it would discourage other member schools from scheduling a noncompliant UND, and university officials have expressed concern that could lead to problems in recruiting and the overall health of UND athletic programs.

Dalrymple was to be among state and higher education officials meeting with top NCAA leaders in Bismarck last month to see whether passage of the nickname law and other developments might alter the NCAA's position. But a week before the planned meeting, an NCAA vice president wrote to inform Kelley that NCAA officials would not attend.

"I think the Legislature has a responsibility now" to take soundings with the NCAA, Dalrymple said, and the NCAA has a responsibility "to act or back off" with regard to UND.

Grant Shaft, vice president of the State Board of Higher Education and point man in the board's dealings with the NCAA, said Monday there have been no contacts with the association "on the board's part or on the university's part" since the scrapped Bismarck meeting.

Shaft said he agrees with the governor that legislative leaders should make the next overture to the NCAA. Both Senate Majority Leader Bob Stenehjem, R-Bismarck, and House Majority Leader Al Carlson, R-Fargo, "have said in the past few weeks they intend to do that when the session is over," he said.

The 2011 Legislature adjourned last week, and the leaders "are still probably dusting themselves off," Shaft said, but he expects they will make contact with the NCAA within the next couple of weeks.

Board officials "have indicated to Rep. Carlson and Sen. Stenehjem that we would certainly facilitate a meeting if they thought it was necessary to have the board involved," he added.


Dalrymple, meeting with the Herald's editorial board Monday, said it could be beneficial for all parties involved to "take a breather" after the intensity of the legislative action and the awkward dance with the NCAA leadership.

But "we need to know the consequences," he said. "We need to get on with this. The worst thing would be for this to drag on for years (and cause) a slow deterioration at UND."

Reach Haga at (701) 780-1102; (800) 477-6572, ext. 102; or send e-mail to chaga@gfherald.com .

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