They’re still Fighting, but now they’re Hawks.
Fighting Hawks will replace Fighting Sioux as the nickname for the University of North Dakota men’s and women’s sports teams, President Robert Kelley announced Wednesday.
The new name emerged as the clear winner in an online election aimed at ending the yearslong fight over what the team should be called.
Forced by the NCAA to abandon Fighting Sioux in 2012 because of complaints that it was offensive to American Indians, the nickname-less UND went through an elaborate selection process that ended with Roughriders and Fighting Hawks as finalists for the new name.
In the last round of voting by students, faculty and staff, retirees, alumni, donors and season-ticket holders, Fighting Hawks got 15,670 votes (57.24 percent). Roughriders got 11,708 (42.76 percent).
“I think this name underscores the tremendous competitive spirit of our athletic teams, our student-athletes and the entirety of the University of North Dakota, expressing our state spirit and the fact that UND continues to ascend to newer heights,” Kelley said.
And how did Kelley vote in a process that cost the school well above $200,000 to carry out?
Fighting Hawks, he told reporters Wednesday. The nickname dispute has consumed Kelley’s tenure as president, which comes to an end in January with his retirement.
The school now will receive proposals from professional marketing firms to design a logo for the new nickname, said Athletic Director Brian Faison. The image should be decided by summer and start to appear on most teams’ uniforms by next fall, Faison said. Some teams already have ordered uniforms for 2016-17, meaning a few teams will have to wait until 2017-18 for uniforms with the new logos.
The Fighting Sioux logos on display throughout Ralph Engelstad Arena, where the men’s and women’s Division I hockey teams play, will remain as part of an agreement with the NCAA.
Dave St. Peter, a 1989 UND graduate and president of the Minnesota Twins, was on a university panel that winnowed more than 1,100 nickname suggestions down to five semifinalists. He had pushed to have the school stick with simply “North Dakota.” He lost that battle, but said, “Fighting Hawks certainly has potential that people long-term can rally around.”
The Minnesota Wild boasts two former UND student-athletes, forwards Zach Parise and Chris Porter.
“I think we are all sad to see the Fighting Sioux nickname go,” Porter said. “The Fighting Hawks logo will have a lot to live up to.”