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Illinois mascot decision won't affect North Dakota suit

BISMARCK, N.D. -- North Dakota Attorney General Wayne
Stenehjem says the decision by the University of Illinois to retire
its American Indian mascot Chief Illiniwek will not affect the
University of North Dakota's legal case against the NCAA.
UND is trying to retain postseason use of its "Fighting Sioux"
nickname and logo, which the NCAA has deemed offensive.
"UND doesn't have a mascot like Illinois has," Stenehjem said.
"[Illinois'] decision not to use this chief is a decision UND made
a long time ago in deciding not to have any mascot. So they're
putting themselves in the same position we're in now."
Phil Harmeson, senior associate to the UND president, and John
Q. Paulsen, president of the state Board of Higher Education, both
declined comment on the Illinois decision, citing UND's legal case.
UND is suing the NCAA over a mandate barring the school from
displaying its Fighting Sioux logo in postseason play. That same
mandate would have barred Illinois from using its mascot in
postseason games.
Both schools lost their second appeals on the NCAA mandate last
April, along with Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
Stenehjem's office filed the lawsuit against the NCAA last
October on behalf of UND and the state Board of Higher Education,
which authorized legal action.
A state district judge last November granted a preliminary
injunction, allowing UND to retain use of its nickname until the
case reaches trial. The trial is scheduled to begin in December.