NCAA Sends Championship Banner to Wrong North Dakota School

North Dakota State’s championship banner for winning a national football title made a side trip to the University of North Dakota after a shipping error by the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

North Dakota officials discovered yesterday that a package that sat in the school’s athletic department offices in Grand Forks for more than a week contained the banner belonging to North Dakota State, which is located in Fargo about 80 miles to the south.

The package was addressed to Brian Faison, the athletic director at North Dakota, instead of Gene Taylor, his counterpart at North Dakota State. Faison said it had gone unnoticed, with his school focused on the controversy involving its Fighting Sioux nickname. State residents voted to dump the nickname this week and the NCAA has deemed to be “hostile and abusive” American Indian imagery.

“Periodically, we’ll get things from the NCAA and it sat unopened for about a week and a half because we’ve been busy with the nickname and logo,” Faison said in a telephone interview. “When we opened it up, we knew right away. I didn’t think it was that big of a deal, just a little mix-up.”

Faison said the error probably wouldn’t have “seen the light of day” if a beat writer hadn’t been in the athletic department at the time. The Grand Forks Herald first reported the shipping mistake involving the banner, which had been on display in the NCAA’s Hall of Champions in Indianapolis.

Kelly Dodds, the director of exhibits at the Hall of Champions, said she apologized to North Dakota State about sending the banner to the school’s biggest rival.

“Suffice it to say that I have learned my lesson about the dangers of reading address-book columns horizontally rather than vertically!” Dodds said in an e-mail. “After 12 years of sending nearly 90 banners a year, I was bound to make a mistake at some point, and this truly was an honest mistake.”

North Dakota State won its first Football Championship Subdivision title in January, capping a 14-1 season with a 17-6 victory over Sam Houston State. The FCS was formerly known as Division I-AA, just below college football’s top level.

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