Connor Gaarder of Univeristy of North Dakota celebrates a goal at the Frozen Four. (Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images)
For three years, the University of North Dakota athletic program has been without a nickname, but a public vote finally ended with ‘Fighting Hawks’ selected as the new moniker for the athletic program. UND has gone by ‘North Dakota’ in most competitions since ceasing the use of the ‘Fighting Sioux’ name and logo.
The University of North Dakota nickname saga has finally come to an end. After three years without an official team name, more than one year of work by committees and multiple public votes, the school has officially adopted the moniker ‘Fighting Hawks.’
UND president Robert Kelley announced the new team name Wednesday in a press conference, which was the culmination of a public vote that saw more than 27,000 votes cast in order to select the Fighting Hawks nickname. With 57 percent of the vote, the name beat out the alternative, Roughriders, in the final of three public votes.
When asked about the nickname, men’s hockey coach Brad Berry said he doesn’t want it to impact the culture that has been built by the team over the past several seasons. “I know we’re North Dakota, now we’re the Fighting Hawks,” Berry told the Grand Forks Herald. “We want to make sure nothing changes in our group. That’s about winning games and trying to hang banners. We want to make sure that remains in tact.”
Center Nick Schmatlz, a Chicago Blackhawks draft pick who is currently leading UND with 13 points in 12 games, echoed Berry’s sentiments and added that the club is just going to have to adjust to the name.
“Nothing will compare to being the Fighting Sioux,” Schmaltz said. “We’ll always have that special culture, so I think that will live on forever, but we’ll be called a different name.”
The next step for UND will be to incorporate the new moniker into all their sports teams, including the men’s and women’s hockey programs, which are two of the best in the NCAA. According to the Grand Forks Herald, UND is already working on finding a design firm to come up with a new logo, but the moniker will be used by all teams even before a new crest is established for the school. The hope is the logo will be ready in time for the 2016 school year. The Herald reported the process to change the nickname has cost UND more than $200,000, and that will continue to climb until the process is complete.
“Some things will go quicker than others,” UND Athletic Director Brian Faison said, via the Grand Forks Herald. “It’s like uniforms. We can do some things next year, no problem, but others are more problematic because of when you have to order the jerseys, but we’ll work through it.”
As for Ralph Engelstad Arena, which has the old Fighting Sioux logo plastered throughout the building, the old mark will remain. Even though the Fighting Sioux logo hasn’t been in use for three years, the logo is allowed to remain in the building thanks to an agreement with the NCAA, according to the Grand Forks Herald.
UND was forced to drop the Fighting Sioux moniker or face sanctions from the NCAA, so the school did away with the logo and nickname in 2012. It was the second such time the school had changed monikers, as they were previously called the Flickertails into the 1930s.
“It’s only our third nickname in history and now we move forward,” DeAnna Carlson Zink, the executive vice president and CEO of UND’s alumni association, told the Grand Forks Herald. “We move forward with respect for the legacy and tradition of the Fighting Sioux and even the Flickertails, and look forward to creating new traditions.”
As the Fighting Sioux, UND’s men’s program won seven national championships, with the most recent coming in 2000. The women’s program has seen its most success without the Fighting Sioux name, and have been the runner-up in the conference championship twice in the past three seasons.