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Judge throws out 'Fighting Sioux' nickname lawsuit

GRAND FORKS - Though he said he didn't want to, district Judge Michael Sturdevant on Friday sided with the state Board of Higher Education by dismissing a lawsuit against the state involving the University of North Dakota's Fighting Sioux nickname.

Sturdevant wrote he could find nothing in the settlement between the state and the NCAA that requires the board to keep the nickname and that the state constitution gives the board the authority to run state universities.

Sturdevant, a graduate of UND's law school, stated he had no choice but to dismiss the lawsuit.

He went on to excoriate the board for its "disingenuous" approach to the nickname issue after a lot of tax dollars and hope had been invested in the settlement process.

Nickname supporters from the Spirit Lake Dakotah Nation filed the suit when it appeared the state board was about to change the nickname this fall.

Pat Morley, the supporters' attorney, said Friday that he'll appeal Sturdevant's decision to the state Supreme Court.

Higher education board president Richie Smith told The Associated Press that the board should decide in January whether to officially retire the nickname and the school's Indian head logo. He expects the board will meet Jan. 21 in Grand Forks.

The state and NCAA reached a settlement in November 2007, with both sides agreeing to give UND until Nov. 30, 2010, to win the support of both the state's Sioux tribes for the Fighting Sioux nickname.