Lauris Molbert, Fargo, column: Nickname fight hurts UND on national stage
By Lauris Molbert FARGO -- I feel compelled to share my view on the efforts to pass laws or constitutional amendments that would force UND to use the Fighting Sioux logo and image. While I believe these efforts are well intended, they would do si...
By Lauris Molbert
FARGO -- I feel compelled to share my view on the efforts to pass laws or constitutional amendments that would force UND to use the Fighting Sioux logo and image.
While I believe these efforts are well intended, they would do significant harm to the university.
I have lived and worked in North Dakota for my entire life. My roots in this state are deep and started when my immigrant grandparents homesteaded in what was then Dakota Territory near Tappen, N.D. I attended UND and graduated with an undergraduate and a law degree. My father, a sister, my brother and a daughter have attended or are attending UND.
I have stayed connected with my alma mater. I am currently a member of the boards of the alumni association and the foundation of the university. I serve on the boards' executive committee.
This is a difficult issue for me because I always have loved the Fighting Sioux name and logo. For me, it has represented years and generations of tradition and pride in what the university stood for -- a place where fond memories of learning, friends, competition and fun were created.
It is a place we prepared for our careers and life ahead. Many met their spouses, created best friends and discovered what they were made of. Obviously, the emotional attachment to the university is strong for many, including me.
This region of the United States has long rebelled against outsiders telling us what to do. Our heritage is one of self-sufficiency and independence. As an example, North Dakota is the only state to have a state-owned bank and a state mill and elevator. These institutions symbolize our desire to remain independent.
Thus, not only does the NCAA attack something many of us believe in, but also its decision is the decision of an outsider -- someone telling us what to do. This has only increased the emotion and frustration -- and the desire to fight back.
I believe that many of those who support a law or constitutional amendment to force the use of the Fighting Sioux name and logo have good intentions, but the emotions and frustrations have clouded the issue. The issue should only be what is best for the university, not what logo or name is best.
The university's leadership, its coaches, the State Board of Higher Education, the governor and even the Legislature all have concluded that efforts to save the Fighting Sioux name and logo are now too late and that continuing efforts will do much harm to the good standing of the university in the Big Sky Conference and end athletic competitions with other schools, such as the longstanding tradition of hockey games with the Minnesota Gophers.
I fully support this view. I believe it is pure fantasy to think that the NCAA will change its position, that athletic conferences will be content with a member that is under sanction by the NCAA and that state universities such as the University of Minnesota will be indifferent.
The university now competes on a national stage; but if the university is forced to use the logo and name, it no longer will be welcome.
It is now time to set aside the understandable emotion and let UND move on.
Molbert is CEO of TMI Hospitality in Fargo.