GRAND FORKS, N.D.
In trying to schedule games with NCAA Division I opponents, the University of North Dakota is finding resistance to its Fighting Sioux nickname.
UND is moving to NCAA Division I athletics beginning with an exploratory year in 2007-2008. The Sioux will leave Division II altogether starting with the 2008-2009 season.
The University of Minnesota has said it will not schedule UND in sports other than men’s and women’s hockey because of the nickname. An official at the University of Iowa has expressed a similar position for that institution.
“We have a policy that came out several years ago indicating that we would not play any university outside of the Big Ten Conference who had a Native American mascot,” says Iowa athletic director Gary Barta.
“Up until now, North Dakota hasn’t been Division I. I don’t think there’s been any matchup that has brought it to the forefront,” he says.
UND athletic director Tom Buning says the school last year was hoping to set up a game to play Iowa in women’s basketball, but talks broke down when Iowa learned about the policy against playing schools with American Indian mascots or nicknames.
Walter Dickey, chairman of the University of Wisconsin Athletic Board, says the Badgers would play the Sioux because of their previous games in hockey.
“We have an exception in our policy for what we call a traditional opponent, and you’re a traditional opponent,” Dickey says of the Sioux. “The policy is under review. We’re considering stuff. One of the things we’re looking at is what the NCAA is doing.”
Buning says Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota are the only schools he knows of that have a policy about playing teams with American Indian mascots or nicknames.
Two Big Ten schools, Indiana University and Purdue University, played exhibition men’s basketball games against UND in November in Indiana.
UND is suing the NCAA over a mandate barring the school from displaying its logo and nickname in postseason play. The lawsuit is not expected to go to trial until at least December, and both sides have agreed to allow the use of the nickname and logo until the trial is over.
University of Minnesota athletic director Joel Maturi says he’s received about 100 e-mails from angry UND fans after Minnesota announced that it won’t be playing the Sioux in sports other than men’s and women’s hockey. He says he is enforcing a policy the University of Minnesota’s Advisory Committee on Athletics approved in 2003, and he would be willing to ask the committee to review it if UND wins its lawsuit against the NCAA.
— Associated Press
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