The University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux are set to join the Big Sky officially on July 1, 2012, but that may be in jeopardy.
For as long as I can remember (I am a UND graduate), there has been an intense nickname debate raging at North Dakota. The current nickname is the Fighting Sioux, and that has drawn angst from the NCAA. They have placed sanctions on the athletic programs, forced them to change their names, and it has had some affect on scheduling.
For a while, it looked like the issue was settled. Then the North Dakota legislature stepped in, telling the University to continue to use the nickname. It was seen as a short-term stopgap as they tried to continue to battle the NCAA on the issue.
All of this has come to a head though, as the Big Sky has told UND that continued use of the nickname could be an issue for the school joining the conference:
UND President Robert Kelley was told last week that continued use of the Fighting Sioux name and logo as mandated by a new state law has become a "concern" for them and could jeopardize UND's joining the conference next year.
As an alum, I love the nickname, and the history and tradition that goes along with it. But it is time for it to change. At best, keeping the nickname would keep the situation contentious and would probably still cause some scheduling issues. At worst, it could keep UND out of the Big Sky, which would be disastrous for the athletic program.
President Robert Kelley is doing what he can to change the nickname, let's hope the legislature follows suit. Otherwise, we could have one less team joining the Big Sky in July 2012.