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UND ATHLETICS: A 'hawk'-ish opponent for UND

Another Big Ten school said Thursday that it will resume scheduling UND in athletic competitions, following a settlement in the school's legal battle with the NCAA over its Fighting Sioux nickname.

Another Big Ten school said Thursday that it will resume scheduling UND in athletic competitions, following a settlement in the school's legal battle with the NCAA over its Fighting Sioux nickname.

The University of Iowa, in Iowa City, was previously one of three Big Ten Schools that refused to play UND in all sports where it was not bound to do so by a conference affiliation.

But an athletics department official said Thursday the school will use the NCAA's recent sanction as its yardstick.

"We follow whatever the NCAA's rulings are," said Mark Abbott, the university's associate athletic director. "So if you're on their list of restricted teams, we won't play you. If you're removed from that list, for whatever reason, then we'd follow the NCAA's direction on that."

UND co-acting athletic director Betty Ralston said Thursday that Iowa's decision will greatly benefit UND's athletic teams, especially lower profile sports, such as soccer and track and field.


"The opportunities for our students athletes will be great," Ralston said. "In the long run, this should help all of our programs."

UND will elevate all of its athletic programs to NCAA Division I status beginning in fall 2008.

Iowa's decision to potentially schedule UND also could help the Sioux financially in its move to Division I. Big Ten teams, such as Iowa, usually pay hefty guarantees for schools such as UND to come to Iowa City and play the Hawkeyes.

UND settled its yearlong legal battle with the NCAA late last month. The settlement states UND may retain its Fighting Sioux nickname and logo for three years, but must retire them at the end of that time if it cannot win approval from the tribal councils of the state's two Sioux tribes.

Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman Ron His Horse Is Thunder has said it is unlikely the nickname will win tribal endorsement.

A previous Iowa policy stated the university would not play any teams with American Indian mascots, logos and nicknames, Abbott said. That policy was changed this year, Abbott said, to allow the school to play teams with American Indian nicknames that had won an exemption from the NCAA.

"We primarily had our own policy because there was no other body involved," Abbott said. "Now the NCAA created their own sanctions, so we're following their policy."

The decision to alter the school's nickname policy was made by the Iowa athletic department with the cooperation of the school's advisory committee on athletics, Abbott said.


The other Big Ten teams whose policies restricted them from playing UND are the University of Wisconsin and the University of Minnesota.

Wisconsin's faculty senate approved a new policy Monday that similarly ties the school's willingness to play teams with American Indian nicknames to the NCAA list.

The University of Minnesota has not altered its policy against playing any team with an American Indian nickname and is unlikely to do so, according to Doug Hartmann, chairman of the school's advisory committee on athletics.

UND was one of 20 schools with American Indian nicknames listed as "hostile and abusive" by a 2005 NCAA policy and barred from displaying their nicknames and logos in postseason play or hosting playoff games.

UND was the only school to challenge the designation in court.

Five of the 20 schools were allowed to keep their nicknames after winning the endorsement of a nearby namesake tribe. Thirteen schools changed their nicknames and the Bradley Braves in Peoria, Ill., were put on a five-year watch list.

Herald reporter Wayne Nelson contributed to this report.

Marks reports on higher education. Reach him at (701) 780-1105, (800) 477-6572, ext. 105; or jmarks@gfherald.com .

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