UND president talks informally to tribal council

Updated: October 14, 2005, 4:10 PM ET
Associated Press

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- University of North Dakota President Charles Kupchella says he has talked informally with some members of the Spirit Lake Tribal Council but still hopes to meet with the council officially to discuss the Fighting Sioux nickname and logo.

"I sat down with a few council members in Bismarck a few weeks ago, and I visited with a few at our football game [on Oct. 1], but there has been nothing official," Kupchella said. "I'm still hopeful to talk with them and see where we are."

Three of the 18 colleges on the NCAA's original list of schools banned from using nicknames considered "hostile and abusive" have been granted exemptions after receiving approval from affected tribes. The Florida State Seminoles, Central Michigan Chippewas and Utah Utes were granted exceptions because of tribal endorsement.

A similar endorsement from Sioux tribal leaders could help UND's appeal to the NCAA to keep its Fighting Sioux nickname during postseason tournaments.

The NCAA rejected UND's first appeal. Kupchella said a second appeal should be filed in about two weeks. It will include an argument that it would be arbitrary and capricious to exempt Florida State but not UND.

"For the NCAA to say Florida State has a special relationship and dismiss all of our Native American programs as hostile and abusive -- that's perverse," Kupchella said.

The UND president said he still believes a "common ground" can be reached between nickname supporters and critics.

"People need to see the other side as good people who have a different perspective," he said. "If you look at it that way, you end up with something not at the extremes.

"A problem is that people think they have to offset the harsh rhetoric of the other side."

Kupchella believes it is important to fight the NCAA's ban on the Fighting Sioux nickname and logo for postseason play.

"It would mean the past 80-year history of the institution is guilty of being hostile and abusive," he said. "I won't do that because I don't believe it's true."

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press