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Published November 01, 2011, 09:48 PM

Higher Ed Board: Spirit Lake Lawsuit Against NCAA Doesn't Change Retirement Plans

GRAND FORKS (WDAZ-TV) - The Spirit Lake Tribe's lawsuit comes just a week ahead of a special legislative session during which it is widely expected that lawmakers will free UND up to retire the nickname and logo.

By: David Schwab, WDAZ

GRAND FORKS (WDAZ-TV) - The Spirit Lake Tribe's lawsuit comes just a week ahead of a special legislative session during which it is widely expected that lawmakers will free UND up to retire the nickname and logo.

The question is, how will this latest legal maneuver affect what has been a drawn-out battle over an issue that could affect UND's ability to compete at the Division I level?

WDAZ talked with North Dakota Higher Ed Board President Grant Shaft about the filed lawsuit. He says it won't affect their plans to retire the name.

The lawsuit against the NCAA is an effort to lift restrictions it has in place on UND athletics for its continued use of the Fighting Sioux name.

That doesn't change the North Dakota Higher Ed Board's plans to retire the name.

"It doesn't mean a lot at this point in time. Obviously, the board took its action earlier this fall, pending the outcome of this legislative session we will have some point of direction where our prior action stands," Shaft said.

Earlier this year, lawmakers made it a law that UND keep the Fighting Sioux name.

In a special session that begins next week, that law is expected to be repealed.

State Senator Ray Holmberg says he will vote to do that even with the announcement of the lawsuit.

"We have heard before about lawsuits and additional lawsuits. I don't think that is going to make a big difference. We are going to be presented with a bill and we are going to have to vote yes or no on it," state senator Ray Holmberg said.

Holmberg says legislators are now more likely remove the law because the NCCA will not budge on its stance on the nickname. Shaft says retiring the name is in the best interest of UND, regardless of the outcome of the lawsuit.

"At this point in time, knowing what we know with regard to conference affiliations, scheduling, all of those matters that we've discussed before. The board has made it's position pretty clear," Shaft said.

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