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Public backlash leads University of North Dakota president to reconsider nickname committee’s five-name list

Jared Clinton
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Connor Gaarder of Univeristy of North Dakota celebrates a goal at the Frozen Four. (Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images) Author: The Hockey News

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Public backlash leads University of North Dakota president to reconsider nickname committee’s five-name list

Jared Clinton
By:

The University of North Dakota is in the midst of trying to determine a new school nickname, but the school and committee have been hit with public backlash after removing the popular option of continuing without a new moniker. The school’s teams have gone by University of North Dakota for the past three seasons.

The saga surrounding the University of North Dakota’s nickname saw a new wrinkle this past week when fans were upset not about the removal of the former Fighting Sioux nickname, but by the nickname committee’s decision to remove North Dakota (a.k.a. no nickname) from the list of monikers that would make it to a public vote.

It was announced Tuesday that, by a vote of 7-4, the no nickname option was removed from the list to be submitted for a public vote. Instead, the naming committee submitted Fighting Hawks, Nodaks, North Stars, Roughriders and Sundogs as options to be approved by UND president Robert Kelley.

However, following a public outcry in favor of keeping the athletics department without a formal nickname, that could change. According to the Grand Forks Herald, Kelley, “emailed staff and the UND community,” early Friday morning saying he would consider adding the option to the mix.

“Over the next few weeks I plan to further review all the feedback received, and I will consider the possible addition of ‘North Dakota’ in the voting process,” Kelley wrote. “The voting process, which has not yet been defined, will not take place until fall, and this will allow adequate time to thoroughly review the feedback and make a final decision.”

But Kelley also added he has interest in seeing the school adopt a new nickname.

“I want to state here that we are ‘North Dakota,’ and we will always be ‘North Dakota,’ ” Kelley continued. “I believe it is in the best interest of the University to have a new nickname – something that will go along with continuing to be ‘North Dakota’ -- just as other major universities have nicknames. I think students, alumni, and fans would benefit from having cheers, chants and songs that connect to a true nickname. But that doesn’t and won’t detract from the fact we will always be ‘North Dakota.’ ”

For the past three seasons, the Fighting Sioux nickname has been retired by the school and, with prohibition of a new name lifted, the school has been undergoing the process of determining a new nickname. In the interim – the space between Fighting Sioux and the current nickname process – the school’s athletic teams, namely its highly successful NCAA Div. 1 hockey clubs, have gone simply by University of North Dakota. The “no nickname” crowd has embraced the school having no moniker.

Because of the Fighting Sioux nickname, the school had sanctions placed on it which prohibited it from hosting championship games of any kind. The school was also told that, were it to play post-season games, it would need to alter equipment to not display the name.

UND's men's hockey team has made it to the final four of the NCAA's Frozen Four tournament in six of the past 10 seasons, while the women's club has made it to the national tournament twice in the past five campaigns.

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Public backlash leads University of North Dakota president to reconsider nickname committee’s five-name list