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UND will use its nickname

BISMARCK, N.D. — The University of North Dakota resumed using its contentious Fighting Sioux nickname Wednesday even though it triggered NCAA sanctions, leaving some fans weary of the seven-year fight over a moniker that critics believe is demeaning.

A law requiring the school to use its longtime nickname and logo, which shows the profile of an American Indian warrior, was repealed eight months after it took effect last year in a bid to help the university avoid NCAA sanctions. But ardent nickname supporters filed petitions with more than 17,000 signatures late Tuesday, demanding that the issue be put to a statewide vote.

As part of that process, the law — which the university, the state Board of Higher Education and local lawmakers oppose — temporarily goes back into effect. An NCAA spokesman said Wednesday that means the school won’t host championship events, and its athletes will be barred from wearing uniforms with the nickname or logo in post-season play.

“As soon as that petition was filed last night, the law reverts,” University President Robert Kelley told The Associated Press on Wednesday. “I don’t want to violate the law.”

Still, the decision frustrated fans and alumni who have watched the fight drag on since 2005, when the NCAA prodded 19 schools to get rid of American Indian nicknames, logos and mascots that it considered “hostile and abusive” to Indians. The University of North Dakota is the only school left where the issue is in serious dispute.