Dale Wetzel, Associated Press
Charles Tuttle, a backer of the University of North Dakota's Fighting Sioux nickname, watches as a woman signs petitions supporting the nickname on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2012, in front of the federal courthouse in Bismarck, N.D. Nickname advocates planned to turn in the petitions to Secretary of State Al Jaeger before midnight Tuesday, hoping they had enough signatures to force a statewide vote on whether the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, N.D., should have to keep the Fighting Sioux nickname despite the possibility of NCAA sanctions. The NCAA considers the nickname and a university American Indian logo to be racially offensive. The dog is Tuttle's Italian cane corso, Bella.

BISMARCK, N.D. — The University of North Dakota said Wednesday it will resume using its contentious Fighting Sioux nickname despite threats from the NCAA, marking the latest twist in a protracted fight about a name its critics consider offensive.

A state law that that required the university to use the nickname and a logo that shows the profile of an American Indian warrior was repealed last year. But late Tuesday, supporters of the name filed petitions demanding that the issue be put to a statewide vote.

University President Robert Kelley said the school decided to use the name and logo to reaffirm its respect for the referendum process.

"I want to reaffirm our respect for the laws of the state and the processes guaranteed under the North Dakota Constitution," Kelley said in a written statement Wednesday afternoon.

The school had stopped using the name and logo when the law was repealed. But under the referendum process detailed in the North Dakota Constitution, the pro-nickname law will remain in force while Secretary of State Al Jaeger reviews the petitions.

The NCAA has told UND that continued use of the nickname and logo will expose the school to sanctions. If the nickname and logo are kept, the university won't be allowed to host postseason sports tournaments, and its athletes may not wear uniforms with the logo or nickname in postseason play.