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Berginski: UND Needs A Nickname

By Staff | May 21, 2015

The pursuit of a nickname and logo for University of North Dakota’s athletic teams has been a long and messy process. And it looks like it’s about to take a little longer and get a bit messier.

UND right now is simply known as “North Dakota”. While it’s better than nothing, it isn’t a team name, nor is it a substitute for one. Alumni, current students, faculty, staff and athletes at UND need a real banner to rally behind; they need it today, they needed it yesterday, they’ve been needing it for nearly three years.

The committee responsible for choosing the UND’s next nickname and logo has a heavy list of demands on their plate. They have to choose one that promotes a sense of pride and strength; that represents the state/region and can stand the test of time; and is a recognizable and unifying symbol.

As reported in a Tuesday Grand Forks Herald article, the committee has moved 64 names out of 1,172 forward for consideration. The list currently includes “Nodaks”, “The Force”, “North Stars”, “Spirit”, “Pride”, “Big Green” and “Flames”, and those got on the list even if only one committee member voted yes. Those names came from a month-long session in which any and everyone could’ve sent name suggestions online or through snail mail, the results of which were released weeks ago as a 200-plus page consideration list and 600-plus page non-consideration list.

(Some of you might be thinking, what about the name they had a long time ago, the “Flickertails”? That was on the non-consideration list because flickertails look like small gophers, and UND and the Minnesota Golden Gophers are huge rivals.)

The committee is expected to later pare down those names to just three for a public vote. Good luck with that. What they will pick will not be unifying, as far as a certain section of the populace is concerned.

UND was under the “Fighting Sioux” moniker until 2012, retiring it after protracted legal battles and legislative attempts to keep it; 67 percent of voters saying it should be retired in a statewide election; not getting support from one of the two Sioux tribes in the state; and an NCAA ban on schools with nicknames/logos deemed “hostile and abusive” from hosting post-season games or using their logos in post-season play.

And yet through all of that, Sioux supporters were and are still out there. A lot of them are bitter about UND letting go of the nickname. Some of them took to the open call for name suggestions to either let loose their frustration with the change – even calling the UND administration some vulgar names – or to ply 100-some pages of the non-consideration list with “Fighting Sioux”. If you think Sioux supporters are going to just let the issue die when the committee’s three names are up for a vote, or even when a winner has been chosen by a majority of the public, I have a bridge to sell you. (It’s probably rickety, rusty and hasn’t been maintained in years. I’m kidding, but you get the point.) To them, UND has been the Sioux for years and always will be.

It sounds like more time is about to be consumed. Hopefully, whatever name wins there isn’t too much of a backlash after it.

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