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UND NICKNAME: NCAA won't appeal injunction

The NCAA said Monday it will not appeal a weekend court ruling ordering it to allow UND to host tournaments and fly the "Fighting Sioux" logo in postseason play.

The NCAA said Monday it will not appeal a weekend court ruling ordering it to allow UND to host tournaments and fly the "Fighting Sioux" logo in postseason play.

"It's not practical for us to appeal because we're in such a tight time frame," said NCAA spokesman Chuck Wynne. "We're disappointed in the ruling, but it wasn't totally unexpected. Anytime you go to court, both sides present their arguments and there's a 50-50 chance you'll lose. So, we were prepared either way."

UND asked Grand Forks County District Court Judge Lawrence Jahnke for a preliminary injunction last week maintaining the status quo while the school's lawsuit against the National Collegiate Athletic Association proceeds. UND is one of several schools the NCAA has labeled "hostile and abusive" in its use of American Indian imagery.

Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said he thought the NCAA made the right decision not to appeal the preliminary injunction. The Attorney General's Office is representing UND in the case but is being paid for its time through a private funding source.

"Once a trial court has entered a preliminary injunction, getting that overturned in this case by the North Dakota Supreme Court is very difficult to accomplish," Stenehjem said.


The NCAA's Northwest Regional playoff pairings were announced Sunday, less than 24 hours after Jahnke informed both sides in the case he would order the injunction. If the injunction had not been granted, UND would not have been allowed to host games during the tournament and would have been required to cover up Sioux logos on their uniforms.

Irreparable harm

In his decision, Jahnke said significantly more damage would be caused to UND if the injunction was denied than is caused to the NCAA by granting the injunction. The ruling states UND would suffer irreparable harm "if it is characterized as an institution which allows a 'hostile and abusive' environment to exist toward Native Americans."

The ruling also states UND successfully argued it has a "substantial likelihood" of winning two of its legal arguments: that the NCAA executive committee did not follow its own rules in imposing the nickname ban, and that the NCAA broke an implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing with its members.

Jahnke said UND did not prove it was likely to win a third argument, that the NCAA's actions were in violation of antitrust legislation.

Jahnke and representatives from both sides in the case cautioned the preliminary injunction ruling comes very early in the case and should not be taken as an indicator of UND's likelihood of winning its lawsuit against the NCAA. That case is preliminarily scheduled to begin April 24.

"We're looking forward to the trial in April," Wynne said. "We're going to vigorously defend the NCAA's right to enact guidelines in the best interests of schools, student athletes and fans."

The attorney general's office filed the lawsuit Oct. 6 against the NCAA on behalf of UND and the State Board of Higher Education. Stenehjem's office also is seeking cash damages from the NCAA.


The State Board of Higher Education voted unanimously June 15 to allow UND to pursue a lawsuit against the NCAA.

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

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