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Published June 10, 2011, 05:32 PM

Big Sky Conference: Sioux Name Use Could Destroy DI Athletics at UND

The Big Sky Conference, in a letter sent to UND President Robert Kelley earlier this week, said that the continued use of the Fighting Sioux Nickname and Logo could have the possibility of "destroying division one athletics at the University of North Dakota."

By: WDAZ Staff Report,

The Big Sky Conference, in a letter sent to UND President Robert Kelley earlier this week, said that the continued use of the Fighting Sioux Nickname and Logo could have the possibility of "destroying division one athletics at the University of North Dakota."

League commissioner Doug Fullerton, speaking on behalf of presidents of schools in the conference, cited in the letter recent cancellations of games between UND and other Midwest schools, and said that it is easy to envision that kind of boycott spreading to other institutions.

Earlier, the conference had considered the issue was settled when UND was accepted for membership to the conference. Now, it says there is a new reality.

The North Dakota Legislature passed a law, which takes effect on August 1, that required UND to keep the name.

November 1 of last year was one of the happiest days in UND athletic history as it was announced the school would be joining the conference in the fall of 2012. Now, that membership could be in jeopardy because of the nickname and logo issue.

Fullteron told the Grand Forks Herald that because of possible NCAA sanctions against UND, that the school wouldn't be much use to the conference as a member.

Fullerton said that the controversy could "easily" result in conference presidents denying to admit UND to the Big Sky. He also said that the conference intend to follow the NCAA's direction on the matter.

Fullerton also said in the letter that nearly all Big Sky institutions have a close relationship with at least one Native American tribe and that the presidents feel strongly that, if forced to choose, they would support of the wishes of the Sioux tribes in the dispute.

Cited as another "disconcerting" impact in the letter was the protest on the campus of the University of California at Davis during the recent football game between that school and UND. Fullerton said that boycotts by other schools would "certainly" have a negative impact on all of UND's programs, including hockey. Added with postseason restrictions if UND were to keep using the nickname, Fullerton said that the state law requiring the use could have the possibility of destroying Division I athletics at UND.

President Robert Kelley and Fullerton could not be reached for comment Friday night.

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