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UND sports Facebook switch not to all fans' 'like'-ing

UND has advised fans on its "University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux" Facebook page that the popular page will be retired shortly, and fans are urged to shift their allegiance to a new page, "UND Sports."...

University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux facebook page (Dec. 6, 2011)

UND has advised fans on its "University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux" Facebook page that the popular page will be retired shortly, and fans are urged to shift their allegiance to a new page, "UND Sports."

Also, the proprietor of another page with "Fighting Sioux" in the page name has been warned by Facebook that he could face copyright infringement problems.

The university is working to retire the nickname and associated logo by the end of the year, with certain exceptions allowed for contractual, licensing and other commitments.

The UND Athletics Department last week asked leaders of conferences in which its teams play to stop using the name and logo as of Jan. 1 and instead refer to the university's teams as UND or North Dakota with an interlocking ND as the logo.

A posting on the University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux page Monday morning reads, "North Dakota Athletics fans, thank you for your great support in making this page one of the most popular in collegiate athletics. Please 'Like' our new page, UND Sports, as this page will be retired and no longer available in the coming weeks."


As of today, nearly 48,000 people had clicked on the old page's "like" button, indicating they are fans of the page, and dozens of page members have logged on to express their "dislike" of the change.

"What a shame!" one posted, while another asked, "Where is the 'dislike' button for the university president and athletic director?"

"It would be a sad day to see the Ralph (Engelstad Arena) torn down," another posted, "but I think they should do it."

Long life?

By early Tuesday evening, 846 people had registered their "like" of the new UND Sports page, which displays a banner featuring the words "We are North Dakota" and an interlocking ND but neither the Fighting Sioux name nor the much-revered logo.

The site included just two entries, including the announcement of the new site and promises of "updates, news, videos, special features and more to come!"

The name "Fighting Sioux" is used on dozens of Facebook pages not officially tied to the university, including "Long Live the Fighting Sioux," "Keep the Fighting Sioux's Name" and "No more Fighting Sioux -- no more alumni donations to UND."

At "Fighting Sioux Forever," which has 18,775 members, the site's theme is prominently posted: "They will never take away our Sioux pride. We will always and forever be the University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux."


Travis Gray, who operates two Facebook pages devoted to UND hockey, said he received a notice Tuesday from Facebook advising him that certain content he had posted had been removed or access to it had been disabled "because we received a notice from a third party that the content infringes their copyright(s)."

Peter Johnson, a UND spokesman, said that a UND Athletics Department employee had made the complaint because "the site looks like an official UND site and could be construed by the casual reader to be an official site," but it included material that didn't properly represent the university.

It was an isolated incident, Johnson said, and the employee acted on his own. "It's not a policy by the university at this point to go after Facebook pages."

Gray said he had posted on his personal Facebook page on Monday "that UND will be starting getting away from the logos but I didn't think it would affect my Facebook pages."

"I have been doing Sioux hockey pages for a few years now on Facebook and was shocked to get this," he wrote in an email to the Herald.

'Cooling off'

When the Legislature voted last month to repeal a law requiring UND to keep the Fighting Sioux name and logo, it also directed the university and State Board of Higher Education to wait three years before adopting a new nickname.

That would allow for a "cooling off" period, several legislators said, but others have suggested it also leaves time for other actions to play out. Lawsuits have been filed in federal court by American Indian students at UND who oppose the nickname and by members of the Spirit Lake and Standing Rock Sioux tribes who support its continued use.


The repeal of the state's nickname mandate faces a possible referendum, and nickname supporters also plan to seek an initiated measure on the issue. Petition forms for both were filed on Friday with the secretary of state.

UND officials have said they need to retire the name and logo to resolve differences with the NCAA and secure UND's entry into the Division I Big Sky Conference next year. But they have acknowledged the strong feelings many students, alumni and other fans have for the symbols.

Another Facebook page, calling itself Fighting Sioux Friday, asks UND students and others to "wear some article of clothing displaying the Sioux logo or the Fighting Sioux nickname every Friday to show that we will not let this tradition die so easily."

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

UND Sports Facebook page (Dec. 6, 2011)

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