The University of North Dakota will get a new nickname after the committee in charge of producing a list of finalists eliminated the "no nickname" option, which would have had the school's teams continue to simply play as "North Dakota."
Five nicknames have been submitted to UND president Robert Kelley, with the plan being for those to be submitted to a public vote following his approval, the Grand Forks Herald reported.
The nicknames are Fighting Hawks, Nodaks, North Stars, Roughriders and Sundogs.
Both the no nickname option and Green Hawks were eliminated by the 11-member committee, which includes Minnesota Twins president Dave St. Peter, a UND alumnus who grew up in Bismarck, N.D. St. Peter was among the four who voted against eliminating the "no nickname" option.
St. Peter acknowledged that the "North Dakota" option was favored by a number of people who felt it was a way to show support for the abandoned Fighting Sioux nickname and logo.
"Somewhere along the line ... some people connected support of 'North Dakota' with a protest vote over the 'Fighting Sioux' nickname going away," St. Peter said in an interview Wednesday morning. " 'If you were for North Dakota, you were trying to hang on to Fighting Sioux.' Some people even suggested that if we didn't have a new nickname, 'Fighting Sioux' would come back. That was certainly not the motivation for me. I think UND waited far too long to resolve the issue."
St. Peter said he had two reasons for wanting to keep the no-nickname option. "I thought there was something incredibly powerful and unique about having the words 'North Dakota' stand alone without a nickname. I thought maybe this was a way to reinforce the heritage of the state. Others did not share it but it was something I got personally comfortable with watching our teams perform as 'North Dakota. The second reason was that it was clear to me from the constituency I represented (on the committee), the alumni base, felt very strongly about 'North Dakota' being an option -- and all of the public polling available seemed to indicate that North Dakota was clearly the popular choice. I wasn't comfortable eliminating it."
St. Peter added: "Some of the committee might disagree, but I think the politically correct thing to do was to eliminate 'North Dakota.' That was almost the sense I had, because of the connection to 'Fighting Sioux.' "
In a press release, UND officials said: "It is anticipated that the final voting process will take place after students and faculty have returned to the UND campus, one of several recommendations also submitted by the committee for President Kelley’s consideration. The university will announce the details of the voting process in the near future."
The school officially stopped using the Fighting Sioux nickname and logo in 2012, in response to the threat of NCAA sanctions against schools that continue to use American Indian nicknames. The state's legislature then placed a three-year moratorium, now expired, on choosing a new nickname.
For more about the nickname issue, go to these links
The Grand Forks Herald's latest story on the nickname vote is here.
North Dakota political blogger Rob Port criticized the decision in this post on his Say Anything blog.
Here is a report from the Yahoo! Sports "Puck Daddy" blog, which is among those indicating that the no-nickname option was "a tacit endorsement of Fighting Sioux."
And former star UND goalie Zane McIntyre, now in training camp with the Boston Bruins, tweeted:
It is hard not to be upset about the news that was given tonight regarding the UND nickname and potential name options.— Zane McIntyre (@ZanoInsano_29) July 22, 2015