philjacksonSome years ago now, the NCAA took action against the use of racist Native American sports team mascots. The University of North Dakota has resisted change, however, and has tried to hold on to their Fightin’ Sioux mascot, despite the lack of official support from surrounding tribal communities. NBA coach Phil Jackson, an UND alumnus, lately took an opportunity to speak out against the mascot:

GRAND FORKS, N.D. (AP) — NBA coach Phil Jackson accepted an honorary doctorate from his alma mater, the University of North Dakota, and asked the school to think hard about its Fighting Sioux nickname.

In his 20-minute speech during Monday’s ceremony, Jackson did not specifically say UND should do away with the nickname, but he asked officials to ponder what could be gained by keeping it.

Jackson said he had been asked by his Lakota friends to speak out against the nickname. He said UND has a chance to embrace change.

Under a settlement reached last fall with the NCAA, UND has three years to win the approval of North Dakota’s Sioux tribes if it wants to continue using the name without sanctions. The NCAA considers the name hostile and abusive, but school officials dispute that. – Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.

Thank you, Phil Jackson!