OUR OPINION: Notably, colleagues support Kelley
UND President Robert Kelley says one thing. Summit League Commissioner Tom Douple says another. Who's right? We don't know. We also don't know that only one of the two can be "right. It's quite possible that both are right -- that both are recoun...
UND President Robert Kelley says one thing. Summit League Commissioner Tom Douple says another. Who's right?
We don't know. We also don't know that only one of the two can be "right. It's quite possible that both are right -- that both are recounting events of a year ago as accurately as their memories allow.
Maybe each man misunderstood the other back when they talked about UND joining the Summit League. That could explain the differing stories they told this week about those conversations.
We don't know.
But we do know two things:
First, Kelley has earned the benefit of the doubt.
The Herald has had many meetings and interactions with Kelley during the president's time at UND. These interactions have ranged from editorial board meetings to business conversations about advertising and marketing campaigns to chats at Chamber of Commerce dinners and other local events.
Throughout all of these encounters, Kelley has impressed us as an honorable man, one who tells the truth and keeps his word.
We've had zero reason to suspect otherwise. We've seen no hint of the kind of Machiavellian mindset Wednesday's news story alleged -- the mindset Kelley would have needed to plot the story's secretive change-the-nickname campaign.
Second: Trend is not destiny, and it's certainly possible that these positive impressions don't accurately reflect the man. Plus, journalism trains reporters to be skeptics -- to keep in mind the old saying, "If your mother says she loves you, check it out."
So, is there evidence that points in either direction in this case?
Evidence in the form of a paper trail, no. But evidence in the form of testimony, yes.
On Wednesday and Thursday, UND and State Board of Higher Education officials stepped forward to declare they'd seen no sign that Kelley had pressured Douple about the nickname.
Board member Grant Shaft said so while testifying at a hearing in Bismarck. As Herald staff writer Chuck Haga reported: "When North Dakota University System Chancellor William Goetz and others went to see the commissioner at league headquarters in Chicago, "I was one of the board members who attended that meeting," Shaft said, "and I have to take issue with Mr. Douple's comment."
UND's athletic director Brian Faison agreed. The university "never asked the Summit League or its commissioner to take a stand against the nickname and logo," Faison said.
Meanwhile, no one that we know of has offered similar corroboration for Douple's side of the story. And Douple himself apparently has stopped commenting.
That doesn't "prove" anything. But it "suggests" that Kelley's version of events is the more credible to key observers who were there and who know the issue best. Right now, that's the indication North Dakotans are looking for.
-- Tom Dennis for the Herald