UND President gives NCAA a tongue lashing

This could possibly be the best tongue lashing/written butt whooping I’ve ever read.  Oh, sure, he starts off gentle enough.

I have chosen to communicate with you in this way for several reasons.  Since you have had what you say is the “final” word on the issue of our nickname and logo, we must now consider legal action.  I want you, as well as University of North Dakota stakeholders and the general public, to know why we must.  The NCAA leaves us no recourse but to consider litigation to make the point that the policy you have instituted is illegitimate and that it has been applied to the University of North Dakota in an unfair, arbitrary, capricious, fundamentally irrational, and harmful manner.

But then he begins bringing out the big guns.

Although we thought it strange – perverse actually – to assume guilt until innocence was proven, or at least objectively indicated, we offered the facts that (1) our nearest Sioux Tribe gave us written permission (which still stands despite repeated attempts by the NCAA staff itself and other nickname opponents to ask the Tribal Council to rescind its resolution) to use the name; (2) we have over four hundred American Indian students going to school here, many of whom are just fine with the nickname and none of whom would be here if the environment were really hostile and abusive; (3) it was reported to you, directly by the Chair of the Tribal Council Judicial Committee that, at the only other Sioux Reservation based in North Dakota, a district-by-district referendum resulted in nearly unanimous support for UND’s use of the Sioux nickname; and, (4) the Office for Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education spent a week here investigating earlier “hostile environment” charges made by our local nickname opposition group – and made no such finding – as clear indications that our handling of the nickname is in no way hostile and abusive.

Fighting Sioux and our logo are registered trademarks.  The Federal Trademark Act of 1946 prohibits the registration of any mark that:

Consists of or comprises immoral, deceptive, or scandalous matter, or matter which may disparage or falsely suggest a connection with persons, living or dead, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols or bring them into contempt or dispute.

The fact that our mark is registered would seem to rule out “hostility and abuse,” as well.
That’s not the best part.  There’s more.

By the way, it was widely and cynically noted here that “Pontiac” is a corporate sponsor of the NCAA.   But perhaps this is unfair; both the NCAA and General Motors may well have gotten the permission of the descendants of Chief Pontiac or the Ottawa Tribe.

Perhaps the most amazing thing is that through all of this – except for stirring things up – you have accomplished nothing.  Your stand against Indian nicknames and logos – a stand that seem to start out against all references to races and national origin – fizzled before it started when you left out Irish, Celtics, Vandals, and a host of other names.  Then, for highly convoluted, hypocritical, and in some instances mysterious reasons, you exempted the Aztecs and other American Indian nicknames at the outset and, following that, you exempted the use of Chippewa, the Utes, the Choctaws, the Catawbas, and the Seminoles, leaving the NCAA position on even American Indian nicknames about as solid as room-temperature Jell-O.  All of this was, and remains, highly arbitrary and capricious.

I can’t wait to see what the NCAA has to say about this.  Also makes a person wonder if the NCAA was a little bit swayed by the amount of money they bring in from perennial participants in NCAA events like the Florida State Seminoles.  You’ve got to read the rest of this letter.  It is one of the most educated rebuttals I’ve ever read with plenty of fun bites at the heels of the NCAA.

Thanks to Rob for pointing it out.

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About Shane Ede

Shane Ede is an IT guy by day and a Entrepreneurial Blogger by night. You can follow him here on Thatedeguy or over on Twitter and Google+.


  1. Northern_Girl says

    Big guns, indeed! I have not read the article – yet – I will later. Thanks for the post!

    I have not done much but monitor the issue, but I was thinking about this the other day. If a school nickname and logo are considered hostile, we should probably rethink some bigger things – like the state highway signs (profile of a chief in full head-dress) and the state name “DAKOTA,” North or South notwithstanding, is a Native name…(Nakota, Lakota, Dakota).

    Good grief. North Dakota has a big enough identity crisis…what else can we sacrifice on the altar of ‘political correctness’?

    If nothing else, the debate can be used as an educational forum. Can we hope to open some minds?