But the same cannot be said of the NCAA, which exists specifically to keep track of these things, and who just delivered an inadvertent slap in the face to the defending FCS national champion, North Dakota State, by sending its championship banner to the wrong campus:
The UND athletic department received a package Wednesday that drew a few chuckles -- at the expense of the NCAA.
The NCAA shipped the championship banner with good intentions but sent it to UND — North Dakota State's biggest rival.
This is not exactly like shipping a "Congratulations Spartans!" banner to Ann Arbor, Mich. (In fact, North Dakota and North Dakota State haven't played in football since 2003), but the insult is apparent enough. The package came with a letter of congratulations from Kelly Dodds, assistant director of the NCAA's Hall of Champions and Conference Center, to North Dakota athletic director Brian Faison: "Enclosed find your 2011 championship banner that hung in the NCAA Hall of Champions. I hope your team, faculty, staff and students can now enjoy it as much as our visitors did." They still can, but only after Faison ships it from Grand Forks to his counterpart in Fargo, NDSU AD Gene Taylor.
In the NCAA's defense, both North Dakota and North Dakota State are relatively new to the FCS – the division formerly known as "I-AA" – having just made the transition from Division II in 2008 and 2004, respectively. Before last year's playoff run, NDSU had only briefly appeared on the national radar in embarrassing upsets of Minnesota and Kansas; UND is still known mainly for its first-rate hockey program and the ongoing battle over its controversial mascot, the "Fighting Sioux." Then again, both schools have been fielding football teams on some level since the 1890s.
Ironically, the wayward banner was delivered less than 24 hours after North Dakotans voted overwhelmingly to allow UND to drop the "Fighting Sioux" moniker, in large part because it threatened to make the school ineligible to win NCAA championships. (The state legislature had previously passed a law requiring the university to keep the name, in defiance of NCAA demands to drop it.) The note didn't say "Congratulations! You're eligible to win these again. Just not this one." But consider the message received.
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Hat tip: SBN Minnesota. Photo via Wayne Nelson/Grand Forks Herald.