North Dakota Gets Temporary Reprieve on Fighting Sioux Nickname

Nov 24, 2006

The University of North Dakota Wins on the Field, in the Court.
 
First, the school qualified for the Division II football playoffs.
 
Then, it picked up a victory in the courtroom, when a state court judge granted a motion for a temporary injunction that shielded the university from an NCAA ban, allowing the school to host an opening-round playoff game against Winona State University.
 
While UND will get some immediate satisfaction, the NCAA is still striving to win a war it initiated some 18 months ago.
 
In the summer of 2005, the NCAA decreed that schools employing Native American nicknames must shed those symbols or face the prospect of never hosting an NCAA championship event, or from using their logos during post-season tournaments. In particular, the NCAA found UND’s use of the Sioux name and a logo depicting a Sioux warrior as “hostile and abusive.”
 
UND, denying that it has been hostile, abusive or disrespectful toward Indians, sued the NCAA. Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, who is representing UND, told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune “All we were ever asking was to retain the status quo while we proceed with the lawsuit. We still have the actual trial to go through (for the final resolution of the dispute).”
 
North Dakota District Judge Lawrence Jahnke told attorneys representing the university and the NCAA that the Fighting Sioux nickname and logo may stay until a court rules otherwise.
 
A trial in the case is scheduled on April 24, 2007. Jahnke said in his ruling that UND had established a “substantial likelihood of prevailing” on its breach of contract claim against the NCAA over the nickname ban.
 
Jahnke said the state also has shown “irreparable harm to the reputation of UND” if it is characterized as a school that allows a hostile and abusive environment toward American Indians.
 
The temporary injunction does not cost the NCAA money, Jahnke said. It also would affect UND basketball teams and hockey teams should they make the playoffs.
“The playoffs will go on regardless, and its share of revenues for postseason play will be approximately the same regardless of the venue,” the judge wrote. “On the other hand, UND would lose significant revenues if it had to forfeit home field advantage while this litigation is pending.”
To view the preliminary injunction order, click here: http://www.ag.state.nd.us/NCAA/MemorandumDecision&Order-PreliminaryInjunction.pdf
 


 

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