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UND drawing up details to dump Fighting Sioux logo

By Dave Kolpack

FARGO, N.D. -- University of North Dakota officials say they are working out details to resume retirement of the school's Fighting Sioux nickname, but haven't mapped out plans for a new moniker.

The Grand Forks college was about six months into its transition plan when lawmakers passed a bill in April requiring the school to keep the nickname. State leaders now say they want to repeal that law since the NCAA has made clear it won't back down on penalties for symbols it considers offensive.

School president Robert Kelley will release a new timeline for abolishing the nickname and the logo of an American Indian warrior, UND spokesman Peter Johnson said.

"I know the president is giving it some thought, but he hasn't articulated yet exactly how he's going to restart the process," Johnson said. "We feel very comfortable that the process we had in place was a very good process. We can probably pick that up and maybe with some tweaks, move it forward."

The original plan called for the formation of three committees to work out details of the transition. The group to determine the new nickname and logo had not yet been formed when the Legislature issued its mandate.

Kelley has said he was no hurry to find a new name. "I think that's the prevailing attitude," Johnson said.

Higher education board president Grant Shaft, a Grand Forks lawyer and UND alumnus, said the delay caused by the legislation isn't a major roadblock.

"A lot of those committees had finished their work by the time we suspended their activities," Shaft said. "Other than finding a new nickname, I think they're down to more or less some practical considerations with some of the venues and uniforms."

The higher education board has directed Kelley to "substantially complete" the process of retiring the nickname by the end of December. That doesn't necessarily mean that the Indian head logo will be gone from all uniforms by then, Shaft said.

"For instance, we know that through the ordering process, we probably won't have different hockey uniforms until well after Christmas break," he said. "The NCAA has indicated that those aren't the types of things they're worried about. They just wanted a solid commitment that the logo was being retired."

Some sports have already moved away from the Indian head illustration. The football team is using an interlocking "ND" that has been a secondary logo for several years.

"The last time I was at a football game at the Alerus Center, I don't recall seeing the Fighting Sioux logo anywhere," Shaft said. "Some of the teams are well down the road."