Seven possibilities remain for the University of North Dakota's nickname, with Roughriders narrowly leading the charge to be the one that supplants the Fighting Sioux label that was thrown overboard under duress three years ago.
Furthering whittling its preferences in a point system, a university-appointed panel Monday revealed these five are closely bunched: Roughriders (48), Sundogs and North Stars (46 each), Nodaks (42) and Fighting Hawks (41). Also still viable are Green Hawks (35) and simply North Dakota (21).
To get to the final seven, each committee member assigned a score — either 1, 0 or minus 1 — to each of nine specified attributes. They include uniqueness, sense of pride, being a unifying and rallying symbol, etc.
UND spokesman Jayson Hajdu said Tuesday that the committee scored the names "more as a way to eliminate names than as a way to judge the remaining names."
Last week, the 11-member committee culled the candidates down to 15 from 63. Among those eliminated in that step were several that are not plural: Blaze, Cavalry, Force, Pride and Spirit. The panel started the whole process with 1,172 in a public-submission campaign.
The whole exercise became necessary when the NCAA forced the school in 2012 to abandon the Fighting Sioux nickname, citing it as offensive to American Indians.
Among the committee members is Minnesota Twins executive Dave St. Peter, a UND grad.
He's been throwing his support behind the North Dakota option.