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Arena official says conditions were attached to $100 M. gift

As a longtime friend of Ralph Engelstad and operations manager at his new arena, Reggie Morelli has known--but never talked about--the details of Engelstad's 100 million dollar gift to UND. Now, for the first time Morelli revealed those details to UND students, details that shocked the UND community.

Reggie Morelli confirmed what many suspected for months: Ralph Engelstad's 100 million dollar gift to UND was not without strings. The $100 million Mr. Engelstad gave to UND was basically on three conditions.  Those conditions, says Morelli, are that UND keep the Fighting Sioux nickname, use the new Indian head logo, and allow the arena to be self-supporting. These are the terms that have never before been public and ones that surprised UND students.

Berly Nelson, UND Student Body President said "most students were caught off guard. They don't really understand. They didn't know there were terms or conditions".

Neither did UND's nickname commission, which studied the controversial issue for months. Its purpose is to help President Charles Kupchella decide whether to keep the name, a mission that now appears to have been a hoax all along!

Lucy Ganje a UND Professor said "If, in fact, President Kupchella tells us that, yes, the contract was signed with these stipulations, then all of this has been a ruse".

Leigh Jeanotte of UND's Nickname Commission said "commission members are not too comfortable with this kind of pressure being placed on the institution and the president when we're not done with our work yet".

But Engelstad's terms are not included in his written contract with UND, and Morelli says last night he may have been unclear. Though he declined an on-camera interview. Morelli now calls Engelstad's conditions "strong wishes", a phrase echoed by the Alumni Foundation's Earl Strinden.

Earl Strinden of the UND Alumni Foundation said "I'm not saying he's wrong or made a mistake. It may be a choice of words".

Both Kupchella and commission chair Phil Harmeson declined our request to discuss Morelli's comments.

A Note From WDAZ News:

Ralph Engelstad Arena, Inc. has been using the new logo on its web site for several weeks. In the past, UND President Charles Kupchella has said that no one should be using the logo. The Nickname Commission's last meeting is set for November 20th when it'll present its findings to UND President Charles Kupchella.

Source: WDAZ TV, 11/06/2000

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