BISMARCK, N.D. (Legal Newsline) - North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem announced on Wednesday that he has negotiated an addendum to a 2007 settlement agreement with the National Collegiate Athletic Association.
Under the terms of the addendum, certain imagery located throughout the University of North Dakota's Betty Engelstad Sioux Center and the Ralph Engelstad Arena may remain indefinitely. The 2007 settlement required university to remove or replace the imagery in order to remain in compliance with an NCAA policy that prohibits the use of Native American imagery and nicknames.
After a visit by state officials to the Indianapolis-based headquarters of the NCAA in August 2011, Stenehjem was unofficially given the task of working with officials in the NCAA to try to secure approval to maintain some of the imagery located at the university's sport complex.
"I am very pleased that the NCAA was willing to show flexibility in its policy," Stenehjem said. "I believe NCAA officials were impressed with the efforts of the University, the Board of Higher Education and the State to move ahead on the issue. I think that the vote by the citizens of North Dakota last June, declining to enact a statutory requirement for use of the Fighting Sioux nickname also helped persuade the NCAA that the change in the agreement was in everyone's best interest."
Under the terms of the original settlement, the University of North Dakota was required to replace seating, carpets, flooring and other items that displayed the Fighting Sioux logo and Native American imagery before the end of 2012. The addendum requires that signs on the outside of the facility that say "Home of the Fighting Sioux" be removed as quickly as possible and that the logo can be replaced on carpeting as it wears out.
Upon removal of the outside signs, the university will be in compliance with the settlement and will be entitled to host championship events in the two facilities. When the signs are removed, the NCAA will take UND off the list of offending schools deemed to be using abusive or hostile imagery and names.
The addendum allows the REA to continue with its plans to create a commemorative wall inside the facility to depict the Sioux Nation's history and its contributions to North Dakota.
Stenehjem obtained approval for the amended agreement during a Wednesday meeting with the State Board of Higher Education.