“Fighting Sioux” nickname settlement

As is being widely reported, the N.D. State Board of Higher Education is meeting tomorrow to decide whether to approve a proposed settlement with the NCAA over the “Fighting Sioux” nickname.

In short, reports are that the settlement would give UND three years to continue to use the “Fighting Sioux” name without penalty. By the end of that three years, UND will need to either secure the support of Sioux tribes or change the name.  Fan reaction has been… less than positive.

A few thoughts:

The State’s willingness to accept this settlement might indicate that it sees the only likely outcome of the trial and the NCAA’s post-trial maneuvers as being forced to either get tribal approval or change the name. If true, whichever of those two outcomes it thought likely, this settlement is a good one.

Those three years would be useful in a few ways:

  • The tribes could no longer feign disinterest — the burden is shifted to them to either explicitly declare support for the name or implicitly demonstrate lack of support; if the name is changed, it will specifically be because they did not support it. If polls about the support for the nickname among tribal members are to be believed, there could be significant pressure on tribal leaders to reflect the will of their constituents. Further, the immediate need for UND to have hurried dialogs to pressure tribes into an emergency resolution is abated.
  • If UND will have to change the name, the three year period provides useful “cooling off” for the school. Fans and alums will have a few years to adjust to and accept the coming change, while hopefully not being driven away or alienated by an immediate change. A generation of students will graduate and new classes will come in, aware of the impending change.
  • UND will have ample time to engage its constituents in any potential change. No need to hastily rush into something they’d regret.

A few upset fans on the message boards think this settlement would be the State giving up mid-fight. That would be true if UND had really been fighting to overthrow the NCAA’s restrictions in court, tribal opinions be damned. However, if UND never saw keeping the name without tribal approval as a realistic possibility, they may have just bought themselves a three year continuance to gain that approval or prepare for the change.

7 thoughts on ““Fighting Sioux” nickname settlement”

  1. This makes no sense, with UND going DI we will have 4 or 5 years where most of our sports will not be able to be in the post-season, which is the only area where UND can not use its name under the NCAA rule. Why would we be given a 3 year cooling off period when it would be virtually useless for 90% of the athletes and sports? Remember the NCAA rule does not force UND to change the name in anyway, just that we can not use it for post-season events. If the NCAA gave a 3 year cooling off period to allow us to use the logo and name (it would be hockey only) then restricted the use in post-season after that would make more sense in my opinion.

  2. Good point — the 3-year waiver loses a lot of its value during our transition. Many people have commented in the past that it’s a perfect time to be on post-season hosting probation, when none of our teams will be post-season eligible for five years anyway.

    That’s part of what makes me think their behavior may reveal that the State doesn’t see unilateral victory over the NCAA as a long-term possibility. If one believes that, it’s best to get the whole issue settled before we finish the transition to D-I.

    We also don’t know all the details, yet…

  3. On one of the news broadcasts (I don’t recall which one), it was stated that the original plan proposed by the State was to have a 5 year cooling off period, which would have matched nicely with the transition to Division I

  4. Another piece of the settlement that was discussed a little bit yesterday is the effect on REA.

    Previously, the NCAA had demanded that all Indian monikers be removed from all facilities in which teams play. This settlement will allow UND to continue to play in an REA that hasn’t removed the particularly permanent logos.

    If this outcome (tribal approval or change) was inevitable, that was a very important concession for UND to get.

  5. I think the REA provision is the biggest thing, but will the REA get to host NCAA events? If not, then that provision is also pointless.

  6. I have mixed feelings…not sure what the future meansf for the fighting sioux. Oh well, it is what it is. Maybe the native americans in north dakota are worked up about these things…say more than the irish etc.

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