The State Board of Education had already voted to retire the name almost a year ago, but the case became ensnared in legal wrangling. Once the state supreme court ruled the board had the right to do away with it at any time, the board voted not to reconsider its previous vote on Thursday, instead advising the university to begin transitioning away from the Fighting Sioux logo and nickname.
"I'm very disappointed today," North Dakota hockey coach Dave Hakstol said Friday. "It's a difficult day. This is a process that had an opportunity to play out over time and was supposed to be about the wishes of the Native American people in the state of North Dakota, and I think we got a little bit away from that.
"It seems that a bit of political correctness and maybe a smaller minority have been heard on this subject."
The board's decision has been as polarizing as you'd expect from a one that abolishes an 80-year tradition.
The president of United Tribes Technical College in Bismarck applauded the decision, calling the moniker an "ethnic stereotype." The former coach who led the North Dakota hockey team to two national championships said Thursday was one of the saddest days of his life.
Protesters have quickly organized on Facebook, urging North Dakota fans to wear their Fighting Soux gear Friday "to show UND the pride and honor that we have for the name." A spokesman for the North Dakota on-campus bookstore said there had been a rush on Fighting Sioux gear since the board's decision, but that the store would not be printing anymore Fighting Sioux merchandise once current orders run out.
If there's a silver lining to all this for North Dakota, it's that the school will likely finally get to join the Summit League, which had blocked entry until the Fighting Sioux nickname issue was finally settled.
Of course, that didn't ease the angst over the board's decision. Women's basketball coach Gene Roebuck said if he had the choice he would pick the logo over the league.
"I've lived here all my life," Robuck said. "I think it's a sad day when 67 percent of the people spoke at Spirit Lake and only 33 percent of them were heard. To me, that's not what it's all about. We live in hopefully a democratic society, and I don't think it was heard here."
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