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Sources: UND must get tribe approval to retain 'Fighting Sioux' nickname

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The Fighting Sioux nickname will be retired in three years unless the University of North Dakota gets support from the area's Sioux tribes, according to terms of a pending settlement agreement.

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Anonymous sources familiar with initial settlement talks told The Forum that the proposed agreement with the NCAA allows UND to use the Fighting Sioux nickname in postseason play for the next three years.

The Forum does not typically use anonymous sources, but is making an exception in this case because of overriding public interest.

Some of the Sioux logos would have to be removed from the Ralph Engelstad Arena, but the more permanent logos, such as those in granite, would stay, sources said.

The agreement includes an acknowledgement by the NCAA that UND was not hostile or abusive toward American Indians in its use of the Fighting Sioux nickname, sources said.

North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem and the NCAA did not respond to requests for comment Thursday.

The state Board of Higher Education will meet this morning in Grand Forks to discuss the agreement with Stenehjem.

The board will take action on Stenehjem's recommendation following a closed-door meeting.

UND President Charles Kupchella will not be at UND for the settlement discussion today because he's on vacation in Pennsylvania.

UND spokesman Peter Johnson said the vacation to visit family had been on his calendar for some time.

UND is suing the NCAA over a 2005 mandate that bars the school from displaying its nickname and logo during postseason play.

Northeast Central Judicial District Judge Lawrence Jahnke, who has presided over the case, has encouraged the parties to work toward an agreement so the case would not go to trial, scheduled for December. In April, Jahnke told the parties legal fees were "rapidly spiraling out of control."

Combined legal fees and expenses in the case have reached $2 million, making it one of the most expensive court cases in state history, Jahnke wrote in a court ruling this week.

Private donations through the UND Alumni Association and Foundation are funding North Dakota's legal costs in the case. The state's most recent billings put the cost at just under $900,000.

In September, Jahnke sealed future court filings in the case to facilitate settlement talks between the parties.

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