Action follows N.D. Supreme Court ruling that OKed board's right to drop nickname, logo; SBHE's original May 2009 decision stands
MAYVILLE, N.D. -- The State Board of Higher Education decided today to retire the UND Fighting Sioux logo and nickname and directed Chancellor Bill Goetz to so advise UND President Robert Kelley and urge him to begin the transition.
The board's president, Richie Smith, brought up the logo issue at the end of an all-day meeting, noting that as the board convened this morning the N.D. Supreme Court affirmed a district court ruling that struck down an injunction that had been sought by several members of the Spirit Lake Sioux tribe.
Smith noted that the board had voted in May 2009 to retire the name. Lifting the injunction put that action back into effect, he said, and unless he heard a motion to reconsider "the name is dropped."
Board member Claus Lembke of Bismarck offered a motion to reconsider, but it died for a lack of a second.
At that point, Smith turned to Goetz and directed him to send a letter to Kelley recommending the transition begin.
"We didn't have the votes on the motion to reconsider," board member Grant Shaft of Grand Forks said.
He and board member Duaine Espegard, also of Grand Forks, said they had calculated such a vote would fail on a 4-4 tie.
"I am a longtime Grand Forks kid so I find it kind of sad," Shaft said of today's decision.
Espegard agreed. "I think it is a sad day," he said. "I don't look at it as a win for anybody. I see it as reality."
'A new set of challenges'
Kelley said the board's action today was not a surprise.
"It is a matter now of managing a transition," he said.
"I am happy to have a new set of problems to solve," he said.
"This is going to be a new set of challenges, and it is going to be hard work for everybody."
Kelley said that people "all over the country are watching to see how we handle this," including thousands of UND alumni.
Noting that many alumni are passionate about the logo and nickname, he said they also have proven to be "very resilient."
Kelley said he will call the commissioner of the Summit League Friday morning "and say the board finally acted."
He said he hopes that "puts us into the game (Summit League membership) no later than 2013."