The state Board of Higher Education settled a lawsuit with the NCAA over the University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux nickname, giving the school three years to get tribal approval to keep it.
The board voted unanimously Friday to approve the settlement after a closed-door briefing from Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem. If the school does not get approval from the Spirit Lake Sioux and Standing Rock Sioux tribes by Nov. 30, 2010, it will have to change to a new name and logo.
“The settlement confirms that the Sioux people and no one else should decide whether and how their name should be used,” Bernard Franklin, an NCAA senior vice president, said in a statement.
The North Dakota lawsuit cost an estimated $2 million in legal fees and services. Stenehjem said it was paid with private donations.
If the nickname is changed, UND would have to remove most of its Indian imagery on its Grand Forks campus. It could keep historical items and items embedded in the architecture, under the agreement.
Officials have estimated UND’s Ralph Engelstad Arena has at least 3,000 Fighting Sioux logos, including a 10-foot sketch of an Indian head embedded in the granite floor.
The settlement includes a statement by the NCAA calling UND is a “national leader in offering educational programs to Native Americans.”
Board of Higher Education President John Q. Paulsen said he was pleased by the recognition.
“The University of North Dakota deserves to have its honor restored in terms of its long-standing commitment to programs for Native American students,” Paulsen said.