Retiring Fighting Sioux will cost UND

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- It will cost the University of North Dakota about $750,000 to retire the Fighting Sioux nickname and logo, president Robert Kelley says.

Kelley sent the cost estimate last week to a budget analyst and auditor with the North Dakota Legislative Council. The biggest chunk of the estimate -- which does not include the cost of changes that might occur at the privately held Engelstad Arena on campus -- is $575,000 to develop a new moniker and logo. Other estimates include items from the cost of removing logos from the football field turf to changing school stationery.

State lawmakers are to vote during a special session in November on repealing a law passed earlier this year that requires UND to keep the Fighting Sioux nickname, which the NCAA finds offensive. State Rep. Mike Schatz, R-New England, who opposes retiring the name, made the request for the cost estimate.

"I wanted all the legislators to know the figures that the president estimated it would cost," Schatz told the Grand Forks Herald on Tuesday. "I think that's been left out of the conversation so far."

The NCAA has threatened sanctions against UND unless the school dumps its nickname. Doug Fullerton, commissioner of UND's future athletic conference, the Big Sky, also has said that keeping the name could hurt the school's athletic program.

Supporters of the nickname say it is a symbol that honors American Indians and has a proud tradition.

In August, Gov. Jack Dalrymple led a state delegation to Indianapolis, hoping that the legislature's adoption of the law directing UND to retain the Fighting Sioux name would persuade the NCAA to reconsider sanctions. The NCAA stood firm, and lawmakers are expected to repeal the law during the upcoming special session that also will deal with other issues including legislative redistricting and disaster relief.

Schatz said he believes the cost of retiring the name and logo could approach $20 million if changes at Ralph Engelstad Arena are included, and he wonders who will pay.

"The Board of Higher Education does not have that authority without legislative approval nor does UND," he said in recent letters to state newspapers.