INDIANAPOLIS -- Despite a letter from one tribal leader in support of the Fighting Sioux nickname, North Dakota lost its appeal to the NCAA on Friday while Illinois and Indiana University of Pennsylvania didn't fare any better.
The governing body's executive committee rejected appeals from all three schools that would have allowed them to use Indian nicknames or images without penalty. Bradley, the fourth school with an appeal, became the nation's first to appear on a five-year watch list.
The NCAA's message was clear: It would not retreat from its policy banning the use of "hostile" and "abusive" Indian nicknames, mascots and imagery at championship events.
"The NCAA has a responsibility to make sure its events are treated with respect for all and making sure that the environment is fully respectful," NCAA president Myles Brand said during a conference call.
Friday's decisions came nearly eight months after Brand first announced the policy, which prohibits offenders from hosting postseason games and bars the use of Indian nicknames and images by everyone from coaches and players to cheerleaders and band members.
Critics contend the NCAA should not legislate social behavior or morality. Brand, however, believes the policy could create more dialogue on campuses and in communities about showing respect for Indians.
Instead of backing down, the executive committee expanded the policy to include a prohibition for offenders from hosting tournament games at off-campus sites. In the August announcement, NCAA officials banned those schools from hosting tournament games on campus.
North Dakota president Charles Kupchella was surprised by the rejection after the university included a letter from Archie Fool Bear, chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's judicial committee, in its documentation.
Schools such as Florida State, Utah and Central Michigan all used supporting letters from nearby tribes to win their appeals.
"We are not only disappointed by the NCAA's action, we are baffled by it," Kupchella said.
The problem, committee chair Walter Harrison said, was that Standing Rock chairman Ron His Horse Is Thunder also sent a letter -- opposing North Dakota's nickname.
"That was new evidence to me and it was very helpful," Harrison said. "Coming from the chairman of the tribe, we found that to be very compelling."
Like Bradley, Illinois is now in a unique position.